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Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Scottish Trip-Pop

Posted By on Wed, Dec 22, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Have you ever taken something apart and then tried to put it back together, but not with the intention of restoring it to its original form? The '90s have been riddled with bands that focus on deconstructing the accepted standards of pop structure, sometimes to the detriment of melody and meaning — see Mogwai, Tortoise, Arab Strap, etc. With the Canopy EP, the instrumental follow-up to its 1998 debut album, Hammock Style, Glasgow's Ganger fits well into this anti-genre. Believe me, if you're into lyrics, rhythm and verse-chorus-verse-chorus-not again!, then run for your nearest Hanson CD. This music is not for you.

Ganger's two-bass, guitar and drum setup challenges formulaic rock or pop. It disposes of structure as we know it and enters a complex realm of repetitive instrumentation, melodies and rhythms overlapping, jump-cutting, nearly stumbling over each other. Much of this music could be sampled and looped, although the sonic progression buried within the repetition would be lost. It's the subtlety of that human, imperfect touch that breathes a sense of uniqueness into post-rock music. Notes that hang suspended and then drop, rhythmic imbalances, interlaced instruments almost competing for the sound spotlight and shades of sonic experimentation. Yes, this type of music demands more of the listener — otherwise it simply fades into the background. Modern elevator music? Perhaps.

"Canopy," "State Conversion" and "hai!" seem to be variations on the same theme of languid bass lines interacting with a slip-slide guitar line that invariably breaks into either a distorted frenzy or a cut-short, stumbling beat. (Post-rock's never a favorite genre on the dance floor, anyway.) "Now We Have You" is a short, looped swarm of guitars featuring minimal echo notes and a guitar that winds into a faster, higher-pitched frenzy. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants" ends on an eerie, "Twin Peaks" note. The overall effect is controlled.

More rhythmic than Arab Strap, less dramatic than Mogwai, Ganger has a certain cerebral appeal, melodic and meaningful. Problem is that it comes off almost too analytical.

A.J. Duric writes about music for the Metro Times. E-Mail


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