Pop: Post-rock with a raw edge - Life and Style - The Independent

Pop: Post-rock with a raw edge

James Young, of Scottish outfit Ganger, has ambition. He wants to write the Tour de France theme tune. He wants to supply mad, loud music for TV adverts (though he'd probably suggest that they use Slint's "Good Morning Captain" first) and he wants to play US arenas supporting the likes of Sonic Youth and Nine Inch Nails (both of whom he's been told like the tough Ganger sound).

Ambition isn't something that is usually associated with a type of music that has had the ugly, not to mention nonsensical, term "post-rock" slapped upon it. Post-rock acts, predominantly a bunch of outfits from the cities of Louisville and Chicago with a tendency to swap members, usually tend to be slightly detached characters playing a type of music largely devoid of vocals and not really packaged to ship zillions of copies.

Post-rock gigs are invariably attended by music buffs standing in awe of the amazing musical dexterity on display. But all that is not really the way James Young and Ganger want it to be. "I absolutely adore Tortoise, and I'm honoured to be grouped into ugh, post-rock, or whatever you want to call it. But I would prefer it if the audience was livelier and responsive to what we're doing, 'cos I don't think what we're doing has the same leanings as what Tortoise do. Like, they're really intelligent and thought-out. It's like watching an orchestra and it's well-rehearsed. There's nothing wrong with that, but we're more improvised at times.

"Indeed, there's an old saying that if you make the same mistake four times then it won't be a mistake. That's kind of what we tend to do. We find a groove and lock into that. The stuff we've recorded for our current EP and forthcoming album is more accomplished and cohesive with a feeling running though it which the last album didn't have, 'cos it was a compilation of early EPs. But the raw edge is still there."

These sharp new recordings will determine a lot of things for Ganger. A couple of years ago their fresh, angry and exciting Krautrock-influenced music was causing a stir in the press. Then they disappeared and are now back with a line-up that includes only Young and Stuart Henderson of the original band ("Hey, we've still got two basses though!").

In that period, another young Scottish band, Mogwai, sprinted through on the outside and came up with an album that was lauded by all the music papers. "Good on Mogwai," claims Young. "They're doing something quite risky and getting away with it 'cos they don't seem to care. They're doing what they want to do and it's great that the press have picked up on it. I think they're the only other Scottish band that we share musical ground with. It's kind of funny, though, that Mogwai started off with vocals being quite an important part and when we started, vocals were the last thing on our mind. Now they're more instrumental and on our next album we've done 10 tracks, with vocals on five of them. I think it's certainly strong enough to get us back up there."

Upstairs at the Garage, Highbury Corner, N5 (0171-607 1818) tonight

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