This is the debut album from Scottish neo-psychedelic quartet Django Django. There are two fairly successful singles from the album being “Waveforms” and “Default” and TripleJ listeners will no doubt be familiar with them. I’d heard the songs in question and thought they were ok and picked up the album on a whim more than anything. Well, to say I was surprised at the content of the rest of the record is a gross understatement!
Once in a while an album comes along that makes you really sit up and take notice. There is very little like this album anywhere in contemporary music. It took me more than a couple of listens to fully get my head around it, but I’ll do my best to dissect it for your voyeuristic pleasure. It’s sort of desert rock meets synth folk psychedelia. Or in more practical terms, it sounds almost like Queens of the Stone Age jamming with Fleet Foxes on early ‘Floyd songs but replacing their fuzz pedals with synthesizers! The songs are superbly crafted and eclectic. It is a lush and transcendental, yet also spacious and at times sparse musical feast for the ears. The synthesizer and keyboard sounds work brilliantly with the simple yet effective guitar parts and beautiful vocal harmonies. This is a work that transports you to another dimension of time and space. An alternate reality that only the band themselves know the meaning of. This must sound like hyperbolic nonsense to you lovely readers but, damn this record is good. A highly unusual approach has been taken to the drum parts; in a conventional sense there are none. Well…there are but they are very understated with barely a snare or hi-hat hit to be heard. Favoured are hand claps, finger snaps, tambourines, miscellaneous percussion pieces, and the odd electronic sample or two. Amazingly, this approach is so effective that I didn’t even realize it had been applied until the fourth or fifth listen! As such, the band could be inappropriately labelled as “folk” music, but they easily evade such banal and mundane pigeonholes, plotting their own unique course through the musical cosmos.
It’s difficult to imagine who this band draws influence from. Perhaps early ‘Floyd (only for the guitar sound), Air? The Everly Brothers? The Dandy Warhols or White Stripes? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Who knows but the band themselves? In any case, it’s not important for we the listeners, just sit back and enjoy the ride. Oh…yeah, I suppose I’d best tune my ear to “analysis” setting for a little while. The production is very good, it sounds modern (crisp and clean), yet also vintage (reverb drenched vocals and guitar). I could have done with some more bottom end from the bass guitar and possibly the tom toms, but that’s being very, very nit picky. Instrumentally there’s no real prog-heroics but who cares? The song writing, the magnificently structured crescendos and the sheer imagination and drive are the real heroes of this marvellously escapist work.
The whole album is terrific and falls in line with the cliché of “all killer, no filler”. It’s an album that just keeps on giving; you hear something new each time you listen to it, but the standout tracks for me are “Hail Bop” which sets the scene for the whole album with its Syd Barrett-esque vocal and guitar lines. “Zumm Zumm” is a bizarrely twee synth rock masterpiece reminiscent of the finest moments from The Flaming Lips. “WOR” can only be described as psychedelic space-desert rockabilly and features some of the best guitar and soaring vocal work on the disc. “Skies Over Cairo” is a symphonic, keyboard driven middle eastern trip, a bit like The Secret Chiefs Three doing pop(!), and “Silver Ray” is a delightfully ethereal closing track which evanesces the listener satisfyingly into the hereafter.
I thought I’d already heard my album of the year in Philm’s Harmonic and indeed had all but pencilled it in, but this absolutely brilliant debut effort from Django Django will push it all the way no doubt. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!