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Ratatat At Sonos Studios, Tuesday August 4th 2015 Review

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At the last minute I got the chance to get a reservation for Ratatat at Sonos Studios, where they played an intimate performance recorded for KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, preceded by a brief interview conducted by host Jason Bentley. Brooklyn duo Evan Mast and Mike Stroud have been making music for a decade and have released a fifth album, ‘Magnifique’, on July 17th, the first one for five years… ‘we took a break’, they explained.

Ratatat is a band apart in this very crowded music world, they are not purely making electronic music, more rockelectronic, though they were part of Hard festival, among many more purely electronic to EDM acts… But the two guys seemed totally carefree about this, they sure are on their own road and have a sound of their own as they were about to demonstrate it to the crowd which was insanely sweating because the air conditioning system of the studio had just broken off… just like Ratatat’s bus when they were in Oregon. They used a lot of visuals during their set, projecting images of birds (during ‘Grape Juice City’), lions, Greek statues and dancing babies, along with multicolor lasers, perfectly matching their slow but vigorous guitar patterns and reinforcing the rave-dance element to their music. they may have been just 2 on stage but they were stuffing their compositions with a lot of sonic layers thanks to computers, electronics and lots of pedals.

Mast and Stroud are certainly a very creative pair, they even drew the art work of their last album together, putting as many pop culture figures on the cover as they could. Their creative process is also very unique as they don’t follow traditional song structures, they don’t even sing, so that their music is purely instrumental but decorated with repetitive electronic motifs. It seems that they don’t follow any specific rules, as their tracks can stretch for several minutes or be as short as 1 minute and half long. For this new album, they even covered a song of an obscure UK band of the 70’s, Springwater’s ‘I Will Return’, which was a big single in England at the time, and astonishingly presents some similarities with what they do.

They played with an aggressive rock energy and the result was surprising, mixing electronics with real instruments (keyboard, guitar and bass connected to a lot of pedals), producing beats floating inside weird and dense soundscapes that could be used for movie soundtracks as Jason Bentley noticed… they haven’t scored a film yet but seem to be opened to the possibility. It’s certainly not electronic dance music, but it will make you dance, it’s certainly not poignant music, but it will bring you some emotion nevertheless. Ratatat seems to occupy a very special niche in the music world because of their peculiar uplifting party music, and the crowd at Sonos studios was really into their electronic grooves, dancing along despite the heat and the sauna-like atmosphere. The two musicians were coming alive when they were playing, adopting some real rock & roll moves whereas they didn’t seem that confortable during the short interview. Although they played a few of their new songs (‘Cream on Chrome’, ‘Abrasive’, Nightclub Amnesia’) they were more interested by having fun than truly showcasing their new album, and that’s why seeing they live was a perfect introduction to their music: they were channeling rock energy in the middle of a rave dance floor


Cream on Chrome
Loud Pipes
Grape Juice City
Nightclub Amnesia
17 years


more pictures here

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