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August 11, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Album: Ratatat – LP3

Ratatat’s music has always stood out as the prime example of when the genres of rock and electronica have collided and actually worked. A collaboration between guitarist Mike Stroud and keyboardist/beatmaster/producer Evan Mast, Ratatat’s previous two records skilfully blended great sampling, innovative guitarwork and rock solid beats that made Mast’s drum machine come alive as a real instrument. On their third effort, the plainly titled LP3, Ratatat pick up many of the percussion and string instruments previously only sampled, as well as placing a greater emphasis on the keyboards that formerly only played a minor role.

While perhaps not as cohesive as their previous albums, due mainly to the fact that Ratatat seem to be trying out several new instruments per song, LP3 shines as a melting pot of tempos, instruments and genres. Opening with Shiller, a song that drenches the listener in synth organ before lulling back into some lullaby-like plucking, LP3 immediately seeks to differentiate itself from its predecessors. That is, until a trademark Ratatat riff bursts out halfway through the song, as if to remind us who we’re listening to. This method is a definite trend within the album, and definitely works to its advantage. Just when the percussive experimentation or interesting use of a harpsichord seems to be getting a little tiring, Stroud’s riffs come to the rescue, restoring the balance between electronic and acoustic instruments. While not as central to the songs as before, some of Stroud’s best guitar work is on here, most notably on ‘Falcon Jab’, ‘Mirando’ and especially ‘Mumtaz Khan’, a song that bounces all over the place with dozens of drums, triangles, whistles, shakers and tambourines before his rip-roaring solo drives the song home. Also worth noting are Mast’s vastly improved keyboard skills, which deservedly hold a stronger place on this album, anchoring songs such as ‘Shempi’ with chaotic arpeggios that cause the songs to convulse with pure energy.

Adventurous, ambitious and deeply layered , Ratatat’s LP3 is an album that definitely requires several listens to fully appreciate. While the wall of new sounds can be initially overwhelming, their coupling with ‘traditional’ Ratatat sounds help ease the listener into the pair’s new musical direction, and in time, discover the intricacies that LP3 has to offer. Ratatat have created the perfect mix of experimentation and evolution, and a contender for 2008’s best album.


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