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Ratatat at L’Autre Canal, Thursday, July 7th, 2016, Reviewed


Last summer saw the release of “Magnifique”, the 5th studio album from Ratatat. For the occasion, Evan Mast and Mike Stroud, the 2 members of this Brooklyn-based electronic rock duo, were invited at Sonos Studios in LA to record a live session for KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic”. By chance – I mean luckily – I was there and I can remember the wild and loud atmosphere they gave with their special rockelectronic sound!

When I saw they were coming to my town in France for a gig, I could not miss that!

I discovered the band quite a long time ago, when Ratatat supported Interpol on their tour in 2004 for “Antics”, and after when Mike Stroud played guitar on his friend Julian Plenti’s debut album “Skyscraper” in 2009 (Plenti aka Paul Banks, leader of Interpol).

Ratatat’s sound is very peculiar and recognizable for EDM lovers for almost 15 years. They often are described as music producers instead of musicians but the kind of music the pair makes is very creative, mixing programmed beats, howling guitars, percussions, keyboards, pedals, reverb and overdub harmonies.They said once in an interview that they usually play and record guitar parts into the computer, then reverse them and when they like what they hear, they learn to play it that way on guitar then reverse it in their digital audio workstation. That would make for some very gentle envelope shapes and much softer transients than if played in straight. Maybe this is part of their layering. Maybe. No matter what, they make superb music!

And the show I’ve attented last Thursday at L’Autre Canal in Nancy (France) was a “Magnifique” demonstration of their talent!

In spite of an audience more attracted by the UEFA European Soccer Championship, Ratatat played an intimate show and displayed their instrumental tracks with energy, ardor and fervor. They chained new songs from “Magnifique” such as “Pricks of Brightness” for the opening, the radio hit “Cream on Chrome”, the amazing “Abrasive”, the wavy “Nightclub Amnesia”, then “Falcon Jab” and “Mirando” from “LP3”, “Wildcat” known for the repetitive howling tiger, “Loud Pipes” from the more rock’n roll LP “Classics”, “Grape Juice City” from “LP4” and “Seventeen Years” (a favourite of mine) from “Ratatat” to end the show. They finally added “Gettysburg” and “Shempi” for the encore.

All the show was filled with visual animations on a screen behind the band, with lasers, motion pictures of wild animals and birds, weird babies, antiques and kaleidoscope patterns. The scenography was sensibly propped up on the rhythm of the music and enlighted the young crowd.

The attitude of the duo was quite different during the show. While Evan was rather stoical and shy, Mike was more lively and restless, ready to play guitar on the ground or in the back with a touch of frenzy. The only problem we can notice in their acting on stage was the lack of communication with the crowd during the show. A regret widely compensated when Mike came to chat with my friends and me after the end of the show, simply stepping over the barricade with a bottle of beer in one hand! Totally funny and unexpected!

Too bad they haven’t played the title “Germany to Germany”. It would have been perfect yet because at the soccer game at the same time France was eliminating Germany at the UEFA Soccer Championship!

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