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Gus Gus | 24-7

Kompact (2009)
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  September 15, 2009
4.0 4.0 Stars

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Letting the music take control is a primary tenet of the dance-floor ethos — but that's only because dance music is by nature submissive. Even at its most sonically rich, dance music remains a utility, and even when it demands your attention, it does so in service to your good times. Although Icelandic trio Gus Gus (pared down substantially from their nine-piece days a dozen years ago) are working very, very hard on 24/7, like any esteemed establishment, they're not going to serve just anybody. Their origins found them functioning as a populous, populist eclec-tronica juggernaut, but the six tracks that make up the 50 minutes of 24/7 have a list of demands.

Reinstated vocalist Daníel Ágúst Haraldsson (who hasn't sung with them since '99) might function as a force field for some, his crystal croon pining over emotions that "echo in emptiness" from within a halo of reverb through the long, lonely beginning of opener "Thin Ice." He rhymes "wacky" and "tacky" in "On the Job" and sings "If I can't find love, I guess I'll hate" on "Hateful." But there's confidence within his flagrant vulnerability, goofiness within his histrionic austerity. And despite all these lyrical dalliances, there's one of the best house albums of the year somewhere in these songs — you just have to agree to their terms.

With the exception of a Jimi Tenor cameo titled "Take Me Baby," the songs luxuriate at or above the eight-minute mark, their acid bass lines getting time to eat through the polished rhythmic surfaces. In its first two minutes, "Bremen Cowboy" degrades from a soft internal pulse into a throbbing paroxysm of gnarly, fitful techno. Closer "Add This Song" glides from gauzy drama to frenetic Plaid-ventures, little flecks of melody glinting off the beat like light, and when its 12 minutes are through with you and the album is done, it's hard not to feel a little incomplete — as if you were awaiting further orders.

Related: This old house, Taking the B-boys to School, Hot Chip | One Life Stand, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Music Reviews,  More more >
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