Laptops and Guitars
If Iron Maiden were to record their next album on a Game Boy, this might be what it would sound like. Ratatat, the duo of laptop-masher Evan Mast and fret-noodler Mike Stroud, have come together to make a self-titled album combining the best parts of instrumental hip-hop, guitar rock, and electronica.
The opening track, “17 Years,” is a perfect example of what Ratatat is all about. After a quick sample, the duo jumps in with crashing electronic drums and interweaving guitar melodies that would make Duane Allman’s head spin. Hand claps and staccato 6-string harmonies then break way into a softer, more laid back electronica breakdown that approaches the territory of Rjd2’s most recent offering. “Crips” starts with a thumping bass line that breaks rather unexpectedly into upbeat Nintendo synth-worship (the electronic cowbell completely sells it). And the fade-in guitarwork on “Germany to Germany” is crucial!
Each song is an epic buildup, adding layers upon layers to each part before dropping into the next breakdown, which works well for a completely instrumental album. The only weakness of this disc is Stroud and Mast’s somewhat formulaic approach to songwriting. Nothing bad on this album, but once you’ve heard one song, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect throughout.
Ratatat’s self-titled debut lays the foundation for more creative projects. What Postal Service did for the sound of emo, Ratatat attempts with a new hip-hop remix album featuring vocal tracks from Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, and Ghostface Killah among others. But that’s another story… Check out this eclectic duo and try to decide for yourself whether you should bang your head or shake yo’ ass.