Maybe you’ve heard of Ratatat or maybe you haven’t, but considering they have been around since 2001 it may be time for you to get to know the unique force that has helped pioneer electronic experimental/rock music.
Ratatat is a duo made up of Evan Mast and Mike Stroud. The two men met in college at Skidmore in New York, and they later decided to form Ratatat over a shared dislike for music with lyrics. Despite forming in 2001 the duo didn’t release their self-titled debut album Ratatat until 2004. This album includes one of their most popular songs Seventeen Years, which helped launch their career; after the release of Ratatat the group really began to build a fan base and tour the world.
Like many artists, Ratatat’s sound doesn’t fit into one category. They have a strong rock and electronic nature, but they also have a funk feel. With so many influences it is very possible to end up sounding like a sloppy mess, but Ratatat seamlessly combines synths, guitar riffs, and ambient beats that make for exceptional music.
Since their first album Ratatat has released three more albums: Classics in 2006, LP3 in 2008, and LP4 in 2010. My personal favorite album is Classics—it has strong guitar intertwined with electronic beats that can be heard in tracks like Lex and Loud Pipes. LP3 and LP4 are also great albums with more of an emphasis on percussion rather than a rock sound. This can be heard on their tracks Mi Viejo from LP3 and Bilar from LP4.
Ratatat are just as good at reworking other artists’ music as they are at making their own. They might be a familiar name because of their remixes and collaborations. The duo has two remix albums that reinvent songs from well-known musicians like Kanye West and Notorious B.I.G. Their remixes add an electronic/rock beat that underlies the original hip-hop beat, and it’s nothing like any remix I’ve ever heard before. Listen to their remix of Diamonds by Kanye West and Party and Bullshit by Notorious B.I.G. Ratatat has also collaborated with popular artists like Kid Kudi and MGMT. They’re featured on Kid Kudi’s songs The Pursuit of Happiness and Alive (Nightmare).
Whether it is producing their own work or remixes of other artists’ songs, Ratatat creates complex and heavily layered music that makes you feel something despite the absence of lyrics to relate to. Both Evan and Mike have spent time working on projects separate from Ratatat—Evan has his own music project E*Vax and in the past Mike has worked with artists like Dashboard Confessional and Ben Kewller—but together these men create something unique. The front of Ratatat’s website currently says, “We’re in the studio working on new music. See you soon!” After almost 5 years, this is incredibly exciting news for Ratatat fans. The group has been pretty secretive about what they are working on, so not much is known about what this album will bring or even what it is going to be called. If it’s anything like what they have given us in the past, it will integrate rock, electronica, and a little funk to create music that is unmistakably Ratatat.
The past four electronic artists we’ve brought you all have a slightly different take on the electronic genre. Klangkarussel is more dance, Made in Heights is more experimental, Daktyl is more house/trap, and Ratatat is more rock. At the same time, these artists are undeniably electronic musicians. This just goes to show that this genre has something for everyone.
If you want to keep listening to Diplo and Avicii, by all means go for it, but if you’re looking for more than music to party to there is a lot of variety out there in the world of electronic music.
By Gabi Schwartz