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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Black Dice: Broken Ear Record


1) Snarly Yow; 2) Smiling Off; 3) Heavy Manners; 4) ABA; 5) Street Dude; 6) Twins; 7) Motorcycle.

No, no, not that way! To me, this album is about as big a disappointment as its cover, which seems more fit for a gonzo porn DVD (granted, one with a psychedelic flavor) than a collection of atmospheric electronic soundscapes. With just a few exceptions, they have turned their atten­tion to noise, and I don't mean jungle noise or animal noise or wind-in-the-trees noise, I mean kaleidoscopic loops of industrial / computer-ish noise that, for the most part, do not translate into anything meaningful. From having gone beyond the Animal Collective, they have now reverted to behaving like a second-rate Animal Collective. Why?..

One big change is that they decide to re-introduce rhythmic patterns, so you can tap your foot to most of these «tunes» if you feel like it. A big potential problem with the rhythmic pattern, how­ever, is that it can be looped forever without any interesting additions — as it does happen on both ʽSnarly Yowʼ and ʽSmiling Offʼ that open the album. The former consists of two or three se­parate, but similar, parts that are too busy shimmering and glimmering in their electronic beauty to ever go somewhere. The latter behaves in a more distorted and schizophrenic manner, before eventually settling into a «madhouse march», driven by pseudo-Mellotron and idiot vocal harmo­nies — you are welcome to take it if you are interested, but I want my jungle life back.

Eventually, it sort of dawns on you that the band simply has had enough of beaches, canyons, and jungles, and wants to get back to the big city. ʽStreet Dudeʼ, let alone the title, is chock-full of urban noise, for instance, and ʽMotorcycleʼ speaks for itself as well — actually, I think ʽMotor­cycleʼ is the only genuinely exciting number on here, basically an electronic comedy piece, with the band trying to start off their chopper for about seven minutes and getting nowhere fast (so in­stead they just have to push and lug it around, yelling and yodeling to the rhythm of the slowly turning wheels).

But before you get to that final number, you have to deal with the rest — and the rest does not connect, no matter how hard I try. The sound palette on Creature Comforts was truly unique, or even if it was not, it still translated to vivid images in the head. ʽSnarly Yowʼ adds nothing to the accomplishments of the industrial and «freak-electronic» scene, and neither expands my mind nor entertains it. Basically, the guys just lost their angle, simple as that — not that there is anything un­usual about it, they just went the standard route of so many other 21st century artists: say it all first or second time around, then stick around for another decade with third-rate product, instead of doing the right thing by switching to another profession. Thumbs down.

Check "Broken Ear Record" (MP3) on Amazon

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