Dat’r is different. The casual show-goer is often taken by surprise when Matt Dabrowiak and Paul Alcott take to the stage behind a mess of wires, a laptop, synths, controllers, and percussive instruments. From the first notes, the message is clear, sometimes shockingly clear: This is no sit-down show, friends. This is dance music. These two bring it.
Now, when I say “dance music” it brings with it a constellation of images: John Travolta in a white suit, 80’s New Wave, Debbie Harry, Disco Balls…it’s loaded, right? Dat’r knows this, and they’ve taken the words floor, get-down, butt, shake, higher, hotter, and so forth out of their vernacular. They trust that the audience will figure it out.
The production is an old-meets-new cocktail, due in part to the duo’s history in a conventional indie-rock band (they represent two-thirds of Portland’s respected Binary Dolls). The beats are culled from breaks played on a traditional kit by Alcott. They recall the best of the techno explosion/ implosion of the early nineties, and funk undertones, while the synth textures and glitchy, spliced vocals are dazzlingly forward looking. The bass lines are melodic and tightly molded to the groove, demonstrating a sophisticated sense of the what makes a dance song danceable. Dabrowiak’s vocals saunter over the beat, and curl up with the hooks. These are organic arrangements that you can almost visualize a conventional five-piece band playing. The trick Dat’r pull off is that they put on a better show with just two.
How? In two words: raw enthusiasm. Like I said, they just bring it. There’s plenty of crashing cymbals, blistering synth leads, a good dose of audience participation, hip-hop inspired mic-posturing, some old school DJ banter, the occasional deployment of a smoke machine, and the duo’s signature joystick solos and duels.
That’s right. Joysticks. With the help of an enterprising MIT student, Dat’r have enabled standard video game controllers to manipulate their music, and just like the Generation Y kids who have ushered in a paradigm shift in digital entertainment, these boys have grown quite adept at their carpel-tunnel-inducing finger acrobatics (without actually playing videogames, mind you). It is a spectacle that is simultaneously incendiary and endearing, novel and nerdy–a hybridization of Hendrix and Talking Heads, perhaps. Err, we’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Mostly, Turn Up The Ghosts is rock-solid debut from a band that is broke the mold. Likewise, HUSH Records (writers often take the name too literally) is overjoyed to release one more album that will dismantle the spurious notions of “the little, quiet label” from Portland.
Turn Up The Ghosts Part I 4:05
Turn Up The Ghosts Part II 2:49
Yellow Cake 5:01
Innercom/Inner Calm 4:46
Steam Room 4:01
The Bloody Lump 6:35
Choice Cuts In Sauce 5:45