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Album Review: GusGus – DanceOrama

2 min read

GusGus may not be a household name, but their impact on electronic music is a significant one. They rose to prominence in the late 90s with their debut release, and since then have traversed many genres including house, breakbeat, trance, acid house, and even lounge music. Now in 2023, the group have taken to past influences and different realms of disco for their newest release DanceOrama.

The Terras launches the album in a glimmer of piano stabs and swinging high-hats. By the time the beat drops and the bass and synths come in, the listener is caught in the groove. Rivals has a similar affect, but is more immediate. The pulsing synths pan between the speakers, until the vocals replace them. It brings to mind Pet Shop Boys, if they had a darker aesthetic. When We Sing, featuring the vocal talents of fellow Icelandic dance-pop trio VÖK, is a catchy piece of house, building off of a ridged drum beat and crunchy keyboards. Whilst this tune sounds fairly modern in production, the following track Unfinished Symphony feels like a throwback to the early 80s. Its jagged rhythm and Eurythmics-esc vocals add up to another catchy song despite the entirely different angle.

Breaking Down featuring Earth&Högni has a disorientating introduction in the most satisfying way imaginable. Its slow build comes to a crescendo of drums and falsetto vocals, flowing on a wave of reverb and delay. The album’s title track is another ominous techno-inspired instrumental track, while Mu brings back the ambience, mixing airy synthesisers with dark bass. Closer Useful Data has a strangely hopefully feel in its arrangement, using filters to weave the sounds in and out of presence. It becomes one of the fastest songs on the album, and is as upbeat as a final track could possibly be.

DanceOrama is exactly what its title suggests. The collection is a wide range of electronic stylings presented one after the other, with ideas occasionally overlapping into new ideas. The poppier tracks are certainly some of the most enjoyable, but the instrumental tracks each pack a punch in their own ways. Its easy to imagine the crowds dancing away to them long into the night. Overall, it is an excellent and enjoyable album.