Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review: Black Dice - Repo

The new Black Dice record officially drops next Tuesday, and boy is it good. Usually when I listen to electronic music, I spend a good chunk of time shaking my head (not my ass, unfortunately) and asking myself "what do people see in this?" Not with Repo. I think the difference is that it's not a dance album. With dance records, lots of the tension comes from bass, the absence of bass, and (im?)patiently waiting for the bass to drop. When the bass finally does drop, everyone in the club (because that's where these records get played) raises their champaigne glass to the gods and gets wild. But what about those two minutes setting up the damn drop?

Black Dice subverts this expectation. The tension comes from these noisy, sampled melodies that morph into one another. The effect is that when the song ends, the listener has to replay it to remember where it started, and when we do remember, the effect is so satisfying. The pulse of these songs comes not from bass but from fucking with the sample tempos and other stuff like crunchy bass-esque sounds. Again, this is not a dance album. But why do I feel like dancing? In my bed? As I listen to Repo with headphones on?

When they released "Kokomo" on Load Blown, they added their own notch to the "Kokomo" franchise, which until that point pretty much consisted of a Beach Boys song and old-man covers of a Beach Boys song. They've gone and done it again with "La Cucaracha." Once you've heard it, you may no longer think of the folk song exclusively.

Finally, with Repo, part of the charm comes from the terrible fact that I have no idea how they made these songs. What instruments did they use? What buttons did they push? What knobs did they turn? It's always fun to hear a record that sounds great and that you can play (with your own guitar) straight through. Sometimes though, it's more fun to hear a record that's totally foreign. I have a feeling people won't be covering Repo for a long time. I hear Endtroducing in songs like "Whirligig," but Black Dice is a truly original band. Highly recommended...and I'm in before the hype!


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