Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brian Joseph, David Vandervelde and Matt DeWine
One of the things - maybe it's the only thing and if that's the case, congratulations - that you will fail at today is listening to Gayngs and not becoming completely infatuated, not feeling like you're moving in ways that you haven't moved in years or decades. Your body will do things. It will be perplexing and it will feel remarkably good. You will be a servant to this. Let it go. Let it just be the way it's going to be. Let it be the way founder Ryan Olson lets it be. He smiles a lot. He throws his hands in the air. His thoughts get interrupted when the music fits into the pocket, when some version of a melodic hard-on happens and gets tended to. If one of the guys making the music can't help himself then there is no hope for anyone else and that's what we're getting at. None of the songs you're hearing, none of the sounds or the grooves, nothing about the music that this heaving, mega-limbed half-breed of some of the greatest and most creative artists calling the Twin Cities and Midwestern hotbed Eau Claire, Wisc., is making is a put-on. These 10 men, occasionally 23 people, often somewhere in between, are beholden to nothing but their inner boombox and what seems to be pumping on them are the sounds of Hall & Oates, the Bee Gees, Bread, Eric B & Rakim, A Tribe Called Quest, The Doobie Brothers and Sade. Olson, who gets much of the credit for the arrangements and general aesthetic of this super group, is a guy who makes the beer runs, when needed, returning by peeling into the driveway, proudly hoisting two more 18-packs of Bud heavy for the troops. His enthusiasm, on this day earlier in the week, at the recording and living compound that Bon Iver's Justin Vernon built and paid for, is contagious and what you find in this ranch-style house - a former veterinary clinic (with the pet-sized operating table still in its place in another wing of the complex) - which sits on 10 heavenly acres in the middle of the country, is a group of men fully in love with the form and process of slow-jam, funk-jam melody and harmony. On the living room wall, there hangs an oil painting of Colin Hay (a piece that Vernon is fond of) and in a dirty kitchen, there are two chickens and some incredible potatoes (courtesy of Solid Gold's Zach Coulter) cooking in the oven. The live room of the rehearsal space - with a ceiling that looks like the underbelly of a fisherman's boat and a parquet, gymnasium floor that was purchased for $20 from a Minnesota high school from Craigslist - opens to the outside and the woods, a two-tiered patio and a fire pit. It's here where Gayngs has taken shape and this place - a man cave of sorts - feels as if it informs the lucid, body-moving intricacies of the group's debut album, "Relayted," a record that hits hard for Friday and Saturday nights and can still be that record you turn to on Sunday mornings or Monday-through-Thursday afternoons. It's music that locks us into the capers of love and lust, a longing for a place where there are no limits to beauty. It's music that explores a boundless appreciation for those tiny moments in song where we lose our shit and feel as if we are completely overcome, nudging the person closest to us and asking, "Did you hear that?" rewinding and letting the feeling rush over us again and again as if there is no getting enough of it. Gayngs, the touring unit that's featured here and includes members of Bon Iver, Megafaun, Dosh, Solid Gold, The Rosebuds and Leisure Birds, is that pure love personified and it's what caused David Vandervelde to exclaim - to everyone's great delight the other autumn afternoon, "It's like music for sex people. You're all just sex people."