Abuela, translating to “grandma” in Spanish, is the newest music Evan Mast of Ratatat has been pushing out. The other honcho producing alongside Evan on grandma’s project is Justin Roelofs, aka White Wizard. Under Abuela’s Facebook page, the genre is listed as “all of them at once.” Seeing that half the information given on the page is hilariously random, like their general manager written down as “Shaq Attack,” we can only guess if the two are actually serious about a Spring 2014 release showcasing more beats by Abuela. In case you’re interested in hearing what the music, influenced by “coconuts, corn, and coca,” sounds like, I’ve added their only two soundcloud tracks below.
What happened to Ratatat’s LP5? Do you even remember how good LP4 was? Let me refresh your memory, in case A.) you forgot it existed in your iTunes, or B.) you’re asking yourself what the hell LP4 is and are nearing the close-tab button with your mouse. Either way, my hope is to get you excited for a future LP5 release. From the looks of their website—where the front page displays: “We’re in the studio working on new music. See you soon!”—it should be rolling out before you know it.
“LP4” is Ratatat’s fourth studio album, hence the name LP4 (LP is an acronym for long play). The album is considerably different from all of their other albums, and much more unique when it comes to instrument choice and variety in style. The drums are very ethnic sounding, and have a lot of syncopation in their patterns of rhythm. The drum rhythms in a couple songs on LP4 remind me of the polyrhythm used in West African drumming. In “Grape Juice City” there is a lot of this used throughout the whole track, in which it breaks down into a more sophisticated pattern of percussion several times.
Another great addition to the drums is Ratatat’s use of synthesizers as a way of tying together the melodies from the electronic guitars to the complicated patterns of the drums. Ratatat’s signature sound—synthesizers that blend flawlessly with natural instruments like the guitar—is strong throughout the entire album. In the song “Mahalo,” a simple theme is played with a quiet synthesizer and gradually built up with a guitar, and then eventually two guitars with some digital sounding strings. The result: a beautiful adagio piece melded seamlessly with the use of synthesizers.
Ratatat seems to have mastered a very unique progressive style in electronic music that leaves the listener on edge, awaiting that awesome guitar solo to arrive at the peak. The best example of this style is shown on their song “Sunblocks,” which is definitely my favorite on LP4. “Sunblocks” starts off with ambient sounds of crickets chirping and a build of amplitude with the drums, already creating a progressive feel. After this, the general theme begins with what sounds like an electric guitar, and then built upon with a soft sounding electric piano, creating polyphony of rhythm. Then, around 1:16, the loud and abrasive guitar riffs powerfully take over the theme with a twist. After it slows down a bit into a different element of the musical organization, it builds back up into a great climax. The song eventually comes to an end with the slowing down of the beginning ambient noises and general theme. I think this piece is one of Ratatat’s greatest because of its powerful musical form, which I believe to be is: a, b, c, d, c’, a.
Overall, I would say that the album “LP4” is very unique, and contains the most variation in style—pertaining to musical form, tempo, genre, and instruments chosen—when compared to the rest of Ratatat’s albums. If you enjoy instrumental electronic music, then I would highly recommend you pick this album up and listen to its entirety. After doing that, you should understand why LP5 will remain at the top of my watch-for list until it is finally released.