Gala Drop are a four-piece from Lisbon, Portugal; after their self-titled, double-vinyl debut last year, they make their first appearance on New York's Golf Channel Recordings. Panda Bear recently invited them to open for him there, which isn't surprising; their music is imbued with the same psychedelic sensibility that you might find in Animal Collective, El Guincho, Delorean, John Talabot, Four Tet, or even James Holden.
I've left that list long (and accomplished) on purpose. Gala Drop may explore similar ideas of rhythm and tone color, but they have their own sound, vibe and sensibility. In four tracks, and sometimes within a single one, they run the gamut from Krautrock psyche-out to lysergic Detroit techno. It makes sense to group them alongside other artists journeying outside the conventions of both prog rock and dance music, but it would be an error to mistake them for another run-of-the-mill Balearic act. This music overflows with voice and vision, an almost excessive sense of sheer feeling that's matched only by their considerable skills as both instrumentalists and producers.
"Drop," one of the more live, jammy sounding songs here, explores the overlap between Tortoise, the Durutti Column, King Tubby and Cluster without ever straining so much as a muscle; with its glistening guitars and lithe, loping triplet rhythms, it's hard to imagine a more confident, easygoing song. "Rauze" sticks with a three-against-four conceit, with innumerable layers of synthesizers rubbing and sparking against nervous shaker patterns, and a keening guitar lead that could wring blood from stones. "Cathartic" barely begins to describe it.
"Izod" eases into a classic, chord-heavy house cadence, but with a stumbling, off-kilter sensibility that derives from a group of individuals actually playing their instruments (and punching at machines) in real time. It builds into a percussive frenzy reminiscent of Caribou's last album, but caked with lo-fi grit; an imaginary meeting of Gavin Russom and improv drummer Chris Corsano comes to mind. The EP ends with the title track, a gorgeous drums-and-guitars dub foray into some dark rain forest of the mind. If it throws you off balance, there's a reason for it: the song's in 5/4 time, though you'd never guess it from the grace with which it unrolls. It's a stunning close to a record that never seems to run out of ideas.
(Philip Sherburne, Resident Advisor - 4.5 stars)