Black Dice – Load Blown (Paw Tracks) 2007


Ah …. Black Dice. I picked up my first Black Dice album a couple of years ago and although I’ve said previously that Wolf Eyes were my introduction to experimental music I think it really must have been Black Dice’s Beaches and Canyons where it all started. My listening relationship with Black Dice has always been uncomfortable. Maybe it was because every review I ever read spoke about experimental blissed, folk tinged electronica (OK it was only one review) and I was thinking more Spacemen 3 than the obtuse avant electronic skull fuckery noise of Beaches and Canyons.

My discomfort comes from my inability to grab hold of any of the music. The beats are always intentionally woozy, nay slippery things that just when I think a track may coalesce around some form, a mountain of electronic bastardry grabs the whole garbled mess and again takes it past my grasp. The woozy beats are re-introduced. Like a glitchy computer game soundtrack being beaten like a ginger step child. Oh there are moments of beauty and transcendence but these are rare. I’d go so far as to say Black Dice are a sadistic fuckers, hell bent on infuriating their audience. It’s like techno for cockroaches.

So its with some trepidation that I approached the latest Black Dice offering. Load Blown is essentially a compilation of sorts. It incorporates all of their recent 12 inches onto one disc. Having listened to it all the way through before realising this I might add that it works pretty well an album in it own right. To be fair though, in some way this is the whole premise of Black Dice, for a band that revels in throwing out the rule book there is a strange consistency in what they do. Load Blown reminds me of an electronic version of Animal Collective in some ways. Look I know that it is a lazy comparison and not just because both bands are on Paw Tracks. To me, t both bands are on a similar trajectory, abandoning their hatred for the listener for a more frank and tangible expression of their sound.

The other thing to note about Load Blown, is that the tracks all have a certain brevity to them. There are no tracks longer than 7 1/2 minutes and maybe this is the reason this record works for me so well. Instead of incorporating a hundred ideas into each of their tracks they are happy to crush in a fraction of that number. The beats on this record hold the songs together not rip them apart. Sure their are some truly baffling experimental flourishes on this (it is a Black Dice record after all), but it’s probably their most accessible thing of their’s that I’ve heard to date. It’s a sure fire entrant into my 2007 top ten.

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