RATATAT’S music is a little unconventional. There is no singing, no verse-chorus-verse structures and the duo’s sound seems based around a clash between machine-made beats, baroque-inflected classical music and the joys of hair-metal guitar.
It has been difficult to work out what has changedÂ but there’s plenty that is new and different on their latest release, LP3.
Down the line from his Brooklyn apartment, band member Evan Mast says the disco-flavoured track Shempi reminds him of ABBA. Mi Viejo sounds like it’s been lifted from the soundtrack to a Mexploitation flick, Flynn has a surprising reggae skank and the creepy Schiller is a cracked music-box instrumental.
For this album, Mast and Mike Stroud moved to an old house in the upstate New York town of Catskill, a studio overseen by a fellow named “The Wolf”.
“It was just this amazing place that we kind of fell in love with instantly,” says Mast of Old Soul Studios, which came decked out with antique instruments such as harpsichord, Mellotron, Wurlitzer organ, a talk box and grand piano.
“It’s out in the country in a really small town with not much going on there at all. You can’t really find a good meal anywhere in Catskill really. We ended up having to cook at home in the studio every night.
“There’s mountains close by that you can drive to. It’s really scenic, a beautiful place, but we ended up staying in the studio the whole time, so we didn’t see a whole lot of the surroundings.”
The album, which is mellower than 2006′s Classics, flits between a feast of styles: disco, Tejano and reggae, as well as pychedelia, hip-hop and their stock baroque virtuosity. Despite the wider palette of sounds, Mast says that after “obsessing” over Classics, it was invigorating to spend just six weeks recording LP3.
“I think this record is much more immediate,” he says. “It was a really intense recording process, completely isolating ourselves in this big house full of instruments, and we just really focused on the music. In the past, we might have an idea for a song, record for a day and then take the next day off to do our laundry or something. “But this time around, we would record each track start to finish in a day or two, so we were able to stay more in tune with the original ideas.”
Ratatat are reaching a wider audience with each album through word of mouth, constant touring and incendiary live gigs (the band thrilled many in Australia in April with the Essential Music Festival). They have done this without proper songs or radio play, and with no interference from their record label (XL Recordings, home of the White Stripes and Radiohead).”I hope it doesn’t sound arrogant of me to say, but I do think what we’re doing is different than what any other band is doing right now,” says Mast modestly. “And that’s what keeps it exciting for us. I think what inspires us and what we’re excited about is what no one’s ever done before, so that’s what we’re always looking to do.”
LP3 is released through Remote Control Records on July 5.