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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Black Dice: Load Blown


1) Kokomo; 2) Roll Up; 3) Gore; 4) Bottom Feeder; 5) Scavenger; 6) Drool; 7) Toka Toka; 8) Cowboy Soundcheck; 9) Bananas; 10) Manoman.

Well, yes, that is right, except for a small correction: the real load was blown two albums ago. This one is more like «blowing steam», if you ask me. A little more impressive on the whole than Broken Ear Record, but still not enough to impress yours truly like the band's original master­pieces. At least the album sleeve picture is nicer than last time around, too.

If anything, this whole thing simply sounds like a fussy soundtrack to a video game — some sort of a racing simulator where you have to drive your amphibian vehicle through all sorts of force fields, lava pools, underground factory corridors, and, occasionally, underwater routes. Under the right circumstances, the experience could be fun, but it's all really been done before, many times, and besides, it might have worked better with an actual video game at your disposal — it is really odd when you have to let your imagination work out the details of a frickin' video game (I usually try to reserve it for somewhat loftier goals).

With ʽKokomoʼ, you'd probably expect a deconstruction of the Beach Boys song, but I do not discern even a trace of sampling — only an endless series of electronic swoops and wobbly dis­torted vocals in the background. The effect is psychedelic all right, but it is the kind of psyche­delia that is usually produced by a couple of kids fooling around with some digital equipment... in other words, nothing out of the ordinary. ʽRoll Upʼ follows with seven minutes of completely re­placeable sounds — meaning that you probably have to put on your headphones, lie on the floor, and let yourselves go for those seven minutes, otherwise you won't be able to connect with the greatness inside and outside of you. Unfortunately, I hate lying on the floor, and taking this in while sitting straight up did not do a thing. (Neither am I a fan of race simulators, which this track recalls vividly — every once in a while, there's an engine revving up like somebody just rammed the gas pedal right into the floor).

The record briefly perks up in its second half, when some of the tracks start going easier on the noise and subtler on the atmosphere: ʽDroolʼ has a slight samba feel to it, with buzzing insects representing a hot summer day somewhere in the tropics; ʽToka Tokaʼ is all built on electronic monkey mating calls, and is the one composition on here that could have easily fit on Creature Comforts; and the album closer ʽManomanʼ is built on trivial sonic sequences, so simple and stu­pid they can't help but infect you — after all, if an album makes you feel like an idiot, it is still better than when it does not make you feel anything at all.

But even these tracks seem more like fortuitous exceptions, because, second time around, Black Dice are compromising their original vision — sacrificing it in favor of ideas like «loudness» and «rhythm», which everyone has in spades. I am not informed of what had happened; maybe they really, really wanted for their music to be played on the club scene, which is, indeed, not the best environment for Creature Comforts. If so, this is all a shameful «sellout», never mind that they are still being experimental and «formally creative». Or, perhaps, they themselves did not manage to understand what an imaginative wonder those early sonic scapes were. In any case, I see no reason for anyone to bother with the likes of Load Blown when there is, oh, I dunno, the entire catalogs of Vangelis and Klaus Schulze to explore before that.

Check "Load Blown" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Load Blown" (MP3) on Amazon

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