Black Dice CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers
Oct 1, 2007, 04:54
BLACK DICE Load Blown CD
To judge Black Dice on one album would be a mistake. After all, in the early releases (their eponymous debut in 2000 and Cold Hands, 2001, both on Troubleman Unlimited) they could be lumped in with post-hardcore and thrash. As they guided themselves through 2003's Cone Toaster, 2004's Creature Comforts, and 2005's Broken Ear Record, it seemed that nearly all organic instrumentation had taken a backseat to the new semi-IDM/experimental jams. The new Load Blown follows the same road, though there is something more simple and welcoming—but negatively familiar—in its approach to the bleep-crash-boo! sounds this round.
A simple beat melds into a crunky bass to bring all of the noisy noises together. This seems to be the aesthetic of the Dice—keep adding and adding until the only reference point is the buried beat. “Kokomo” prepares the listener the best that it can. The swirls and samples are suitable, but need to be more defined. Spotlight one or two and it is much more enjoyable, like in the second track, “Roll Up.” The grating, scratch of a beat is so up front in the mix that concentrating on anything else is impossible. A movement here and a “solo” there break up the monotony just enough to give a sense of place, but the true leader of the song was introduced in the beginning and dominates, and rightly so, throughout the piece.
“Gore” is nothing more than the same idea as “Roll Up” slightly moved around. Already, the distortion covering nearly everything is wearing thin. “Bottom Feeder” seems to be a sample, or a sound identical to this year's Mirrored by the band Battles. The eeriness bleeds into “Scavenger” as the noises and effects of the Dice seem to borrow from other contemporary instrumental groups (including, but not limited to, Aphex Twin, aforementioned Battles, and Animal Collective) and subsequently try and make it their own without a certain stamp or recognizable fingerprint to give it that special something.
Through “Toka Toka,” “Bananas” and “Manoman” the sounds remain connected, almost as if one song has influenced the next or vice-versa. The unfortunate highlight is what seems to be a video game racecar sampled in the beginning of “Manoman,” fiercely escalating into a quick, shimmering distorted cough, and then resting on all fours for the remainder of the album.
It can be said that Black Dice have a sound, but whether or not it is their own is up for debate. There are interesting bits and the distortion, though overused, has a nice warm quality to it but the familiarity of most of the sounds overshadow any honesty it would seem Black Dice are trying to portray. [Paw Tracks]