Prolific NY noiseniks lose their drummer and record a new album..
Nick Reynolds 2003-02-10
New York based experimentalists Black Dice have lost a drummer and released a new album. Their previous releases have each introduced fresh textures to their sound. Here they are revisiting old ideas not introducing new ones. But this is their most accessible and concise album to date, and a good starting point for new listeners.
The grubby, wordless vocals, basic drumming and general sonic mayhem heard on the classic "Beaches and Canyons" are combined with the squelching, distorted keyboards and gentle guitar figures of "Creature Comforts". The mood is jolly and swinging throughout. It kicks off with the loping one legged rhythm of "Snarly Yow" which soon develops into a series of electronic pulses on frequencies only dogs can hear.
Machines fart and splurt in a rather rude way in the first half of "Smiling Off". The second half sounds like The Residents playing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" during an air raid. Similarly the tribal yelping, pounding drum and cheerful guitar of the final track "Motorcycle" sets up a kind of polka to end the album on a dancing, happy note.
The one genuinely new moment is the frustratingly brief and very gentle keyboard loop of "ABA". Some of the textures are still extreme. I'd advise you to turn your headphones down during the relentless electric distortion of "Twins" (iPods make you deaf you know). But for Black Dice this is a pretty relaxed and warm session.
Black Dice are a rock band who write songs. They just use sounds and noises rather than conventional instruments to do it. And only a rock band would design the bizarre cover art, a picture of a naked human bottom. Can they develop what they do further, or is this the point where they start to run out of ideas?
Until we find out "Broken Ear Record"remains top entertainment from my favourite new band.