Vinyl LP, Cassette, T-Shirt/Apparel, Button
Four years passed between the formation of the Chicago-based band Ganser and the release of their debut LP, Odd Talk, and the wait has served them well. Led by bassist and vocalist Alicia Gaines, the group effortlessly merge the unrelenting pulse of angular post-punk with the layering techniques (if not the exact sound) of shoegaze. Charlie Landsman’s guitar lines are almost freeform, bouncing and careening off the walls of the song. This interplay between the propulsive, steady foundation of Gaines and drummer Brian Cundiff’s rhythm section and Landsman’s unpredictable but precise playing give the band a feeling of both meticulous control and wild spontaneity.
Swinging from skittish new wave to marauding punk and hitting almost every stop in between, Odd Talk pushes out every genre it touches in novel ways, and Gaines’s severe delivery gives every song a goth-like edge, shrouding the entire affair in darkness. On “Satsuma,” an interlocking drum and bass rhythm joins up with an army of guitar lines, creating a mountaintop of sound from which Gaines yells, “What a time to be alive!” The sentiment doesn’t scan as enthusiastic leap so much as a deadpan eye-roll.
Gaines deploys sarcasm with skill throughout Odd Talk, managing to be cutting without ever getting too acidic; she’s not out to burn down the world, she’s out to bring it back to life. On “Aubergine,” Cundiff’s massive, post-rock drums clear the way for a wail of feedback and a melancholy keyboard line from Nadia Garofalo. Gaines’s voice is elastic and free-roaming, stretching out syllables for whole bars. When Landsman’s guitars enter, they sound detuned and melted, groaning and heaving. On that song, and on Odd Talk as a whole, the group turns the otherwise grotesque into something haunting and beautiful. Very goth, indeed.