Gangi Stretches out With its Sample-heavy Electro-folk

Originally posted at BuzzBands.LA on May 4, 2009:

Matt Gangi and Lyle Nesse — the men behind the machines in the L.A. duo Gangi— imagine their music as cinema, in hi-def on a widescreen. “We were talking to a producer and Matt told him, ‘I really want it to sound like an industrial silo in the middle of an open field,’” Nesse says. “The guy didn’t know what to think. Suffice to say it didn’t work out with that producer.”

So Gangi and Nesse, who relocated to L.A. from New York last year, are doing it themselves. Their 2008 debut, “A,” was made in Gangi’s probably unsafe Brooklyn apartment — “There were mushrooms growing out of the ceiling,” he says — and the follow-up, tentatively titled “Gun Show,” is being shaped in late-night sessions in a possibly spooky Pasadena studio where the duo is rehearsing its sets for this month’s Monday night residency at Spaceland.

No matter the setting, weirder is better for Gangi’s music, psychedelic-leaning folk that would remind you of Mercury Rev were it not for collage of electronic beats and samples that course through the songs like frayed nerves. The aesthetic reflects the disparate sensibilities of Gangi and Nesse — the former tethered to “old-timey folk records and classic rock” and the latter to hip-hop and electronica — as well as their common ground as film students at NYU.

(Nesse’s major at NYU: “Music Is the Weapon.” No kidding.)

Gangi, who grew up in Glendale, drew inspiration from hanging out with writersand avant-garde poets in NYC’s underground literature scene. “I was just writing folk songs, but after a while I realized I was inundated by technology — it has to be part of the music,” he says of his music’s duality. “We’re surrounded by natural environments and industrial complexes.”

Nesse, a Maryland native, originally partnered with Gangi because the songwriter needed a way to play “A” live. Their two-man set-up, an intricate arrangement of guitar, drums, keyboards and sequencers/samplers, uses live looping to fashion Gangi’s sonic textures. It’s a work in progress — Nesse says the Spaceland residency will feature “some new songs and old songs approached in new ways.”

Their new material “is a little more rock ‘n’ roll,” Gangi says, but is still the work of gleeful cratediggers who can build songs around snippets of melody or beats. “A lot of the sounds we’re still shaping and crafting in here,” he says.

Those sounds are likely to find a lot of open ears in L.A., where Gangi and Nesse decided to station themselves (and engage in some guerilla marketing, as their old-school postering around Eastside environs testifies) after playing the Manimal Festival last year. “New York was getting dark for me in a lot of ways; here there are so many different places you can go, so many different places you can play,” Nesse says — although, both admit, they miss the frankness of NYC audiences. “Here people will always tell you ‘Good show, good show,’” Gangi says. “In New York, you’re more likely to hear what people really think.”

||| Download (previously posted): “Commonplace Feathers” and “Animals”

||| Live: Gangi performs every Monday this month at Spaceland