[CD Review] Mungolian Jet Set, 'We Gave It All Away . . . ' (Smalltown Supersound)

Mungolian Jet Set
We Gave It All Away . . . Now We Are Taking It Back

(Smalltown Supersound)

In a genre like electronic dance music—where “faceless” is often used as a criticism—some of the sharpest minds make sure to have an image as arresting as their songs: Think Daft Punk’s featureless robots or Justice’s iconic glowing cross. Norwegian duo Mungolian Jet Set, however, more closely resemble the cast of U.K. TV cult hit The Mighty Boosh, given to elaborate robes and headdresses, not to mention a full complement of dancers in equally striking gear.

If they were only about the clothes, then Mungolian Jet Set could be dismissed as another bunch of chancers, but their sophomore full-length release makes clear why dance mavens worldwide have been going nuts for them. A double-CD of remixes plus some original efforts, it’s an astonishingly coherent and well-sequenced collection of three years of work that manages the trick of pulling a listener fully into its own exciting world.

In recent years a sound labeled “Balearic” or “beardo disco” has been a strong trend; a catchall description for an emphasis on smooth, steady beats, dreamy space-rock synths and a sense of live production and performance with crisply played funk guitar lines. Mungolian Jet Set’s genius lies in providing many of these elements while being open to random surprises, from extreme falsettos to sudden breakdowns and rearrangements. It’s sheer randomness for the pleasure of it—not for nothing do the band openly admit a huge love of the early-’90s work of the similarly minded Orb.

Working with everyone from U.K. post-shoegazers to avant-garde jazz figures to American dance types helps show the range of their abilities, with a manic, near-unrecognizable cover of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” and epic first record closer “Clairevoyage” being just two highlights of a captivating run of songs.

 
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