How great is this
Archive for the The Dead C Category
How great is this
Thursday was a great day. Not only did Tusk, Trapdoor Fucking Exit and the White House appear in my PO Box but so did DR503C. And then to top it all off I won Eusa Kills during a late night ebay session. Now I’ve never denied that I was an obsessive little fucker but you can’t fuck about with these sorts of things because the bastard record companies will delete them and … well, where are you going to hear them then.
I had these grand plans to write an essay on the development of the Dead c over the last 20 years and then I thought “how fucking arrogant is that” so each will be taken on their merits as soon as I have had a chance to digest them.
The first one I’ve managed to get through is The White House. This is a classic (and might i add readily available) example of how confusing the Dead C get. There are six tracks of this and none of them are super-stupid long if you know what I mean. The first two are the whole experimental, improv sound thing. We start off with Voodoospell an electronic avant garde psychedelic noise piece. The New Snow is an improv, free form guitar track with some nice droney elements. Both tracks are great and completely different from each other. Your Hand is the third track and somehow we have moved from experimental noise to a vaguely Sebadoh-ish moment. It’s fucking great and I’m sure that in a distant universe it is a college radio hit. Track 4 is a noise interlude which adds nothing before the immense greatness of Bitcher appears. A whole album of this and they would have been one of the biggest alt-rock bands of the 1990’s. Bitcher is a great big RAWK song. A really badly produced rock song but its in there, under the fuzz, perfectly formed. The final track is just as good. Outside is where I get the Pavement comparisons from. Its like a 17 minute lo-fi rock jam that slowly de-constructs itself into a much more drone-based experimental affair. With four minutes to go we’re in Mouthus territory. Its an extraodinary end to a great record. I don’t think it reconciles the tuneless experimental opening tracks with the great lo-fi rock tracks that come after them but does it really fucking matter? I feel like I should be saying “if you’re looking for a place to start with the Dead C this should be it” but I’ve got four more records to go and I’m in no position to be that helpful just yet. What I can say is that if this is supposed to be a noise record then its the most pop-like noise record I’ve heard yet.
So, last week I’m out for a meeting with one of my colleagues and I decide on the way back to the office to stop by my post office box to see if the international postman has bestowed blessings on me. He had and as I opened the parcel the following conversation occurred.
Colleague: Oh Goody now we can listen to a CD on the way back to the office
Me: Umm … You’re not going to like this.
Colleague: I like all sorts of music. It is alternative?
Me: More underground I think
Colleague: Well lets put it on (she unwrapped the CD and put it in the very tasteful Toyota’s CD player. She politely listens for ten seconds). Dave there’s no tune.
Me: Yup I think that’s the point. It’s pretty cool isn’t it?
Colleague: (Becoming uncomfortable) You actually like this?
Me: Well Its great to test the boundaries of music; to listen to sound as opposed to tune. To hear what artists do to sound. To hear how sounds collide, intermingle and stand alone against silence. Umm, sometimes I just need a record to bring me the noise. Don’t you notice how hypnotic and ambient the noise becomes. It creates its own music.
Colleague: Perhaps it’s easier to appreciate through headphones.
And there the conversation ended. I don’t plan to post in any length about this until I digest the other four Dead C CD’s that should arrive soon. In a previous The Dead C post I said that I couldn’t hear the Dead C in what the Yellow Swans do. Well after listening to this for the last week I fucking do now. Thanks for the tip Mr Swanson.
Oh baby this is good.
Now as anyone who has read this shitty little blog knows (and I’m fucking surprised at how many of you are out there), I’m quite fond of this whole current noise scene. I don’t for a minute pretend to know my avant garde/ experimental music history. I know my Throbbing Gristle, I know my no-wave, I know my Glen Branca, I’ve dabbled with some Zorn but that’s about as far as my historical knowledge goes. I’m not an expert, and I’m sure as shit not going to put myself out there as someone who can wax lyrical in an essay about the importance of the Dead C in the context of the current noise/experimental scene. All I can do is listen and try to somehow put into words my experience of the music. I am alone on a sea of noise.
What I can tell you is that this is fucking great. Five tracks of noise that have made me a very happy man indeed. If you read my post on Vain, Euridite ….. you will know that I didn’t really get the whole Dead C – Yellow Swans connection. If you go a step further and read the comments you’ll see that Mr Pete Swanson himself calls me out. Which is kind of cool but I’ve revisited that compilation and tried to hear the influence and well ….. call me a fucking luddite … but I struggle. Mr Swanson tells me that the four Siltbreeze releases are essential so I bought them. They haven’t arrived in Brisbane yet but hey I’ll let you know what I think at a later date. What I’m trying to get at I suppose, is that I finally get the connection when I listen to the first track on Future Artists and by the way thank you Dead C for actually having the fucking time to give these tracks titles. The AMM of Punk Rock is great. Apparently it is some sort of in joke but I don’t know who AMM are so it’s all a bit lost on me. It’s a nice warm pool of drone electronics, with drums and the odd glitch. Experimental ambient heaven. The second track The Magicians is a fucking cracker and reminds me of their previous output. Its an indie punk track with someone interrupting proceedings by doing something very cruel to a guitar which I don’t think is entirely legal. Its the last time you hear vocals on Future Artists before we’re back in experimental composition land with the third track Macoute. If you like your Mouthus, Double Leopards and Yellow Swans albums then you’re really going to like this. It’s less fierce than those other bands’ respective records and sometimes that’s not an entirely bad thing. The final two tracks have a great improv feel to them. Eternity has a great rock vibe and there are some tiny shard of guitar noise on it that make me think of Sonic Youth’s Sister. The final track Garage is a lengthy beast and sounds the most improvised thing here. It sounds to me like a twenty minute experimental jam session. There a bit of blues guitar, electronic fuckery and a big fat mellow vibe.
I know I have not done this record justice and I’m not in the position to tell you how it compares to their previous output and let’s face it if you liked those records you’ve bought Future Artists already. I know this though, Future Artists is one of the best, most original records you’ll hear all year.
This one of my favourite recent additions to “the Special”. I don’t know much about the band. All I know is that they’re a two piece from Brooklyn. One fellow drums and the other plays the guitar. They have a couple of official releases out there which are pretty easy to pick up but this is the first and only thing I have heard from them. This record was a bonus disc given to subscribers of Threelobed’s Modern Containment series (it featured discs by Hush Arbours, Wooden Wand and Bardo Pond to name a few.)
This is a a slight step back form the pure, harsh noise groups doing the rounds at the moment. Somewhere under the hellish mire is a drummer. A real drummer as opposed to some incessant drum loop churning out wave on wave of sickening aural horror. Mouthus have a real rock vibe happening here. A heavily de-constructed industrial, free-noise, rock vibe but I guarantee you, it is there. It may not be apparent at first but for a couple of tracks it’s almost a garage, swamp rock feel happening under the noise. The first track The Final Tribes has a couple of bass style noises ( I mean it might be a bass or some digital thing … who knows?) but to me it sound like Tracey Pew from the Birthday Party grinding his bass from the third circle of Hell.
There is something fantastically organic and human about For the Great Slave Lakes. Pete Swanson is right, it reeks of The Dead C and although Mouthus are a very different beast this record also made me think of Birchville Cat Motel. There is something approachable about it, its not all machines and death. Sure the metal machine music is all here. Bits of metal clank and clang but When We Were Graves has something which sounds oddly like maracas. There is oxygen in the noise. There are humans behind the racket. Even at their most machine like, the loop heavy track, Where Was I When I Laid to Rest There, is grounded by the intermitent smashing of cymbals. Many will disagree, but the frenetic drumming grounding the whole track (somewhere under the distorted fart of the electronics) reminds me of a de-constructed George Hurley doing Nuff that Shit George from Firehose’s “fromOhio.”
If you’re new to noise you need to track this down and perhaps also get yourself a copy of Yellow Swans “Global Cone” while you’re at it.
It kind of disturbs me that I’ve spent a good deal of my life being a complete music snob and somehow I had never heard the best band in New Zealand until earlier this year. This is one of my most listened to records according to Mr Boo but I’ve been walking around all day thinking how I was going to post on The Dead C. The Katharina Grosse exhibition I saw this afternoon would be much easier to post on than this simple rock record (and that exhibition was basically large balloons and painted dirt for fuck’s sake.) Vain Erudite and Stupid is a compilation of hand picked tracks by the band. All bar a couple of their records are out of print and if your even mildly interested in experimental, free form rock then you’ll have no fucking choice but to buy this.
The Dead C are a three piece from New Zealand and have been around since the mid 1980’s. They were feted by Sonic Youth in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s but unlike many other friends of SY, The Dead C never made it big. Fuck it, that shouldn’t be a surprise and is there any wonder when you listen to some of the stuff collected on this compilation. The biggest issue I have is where do they fit in the never ending game of comparisons. The best I can do is Sonic Youth crossed with early avant garde Pavement, add to that a sprinkling of Throbbing Gristle and then make sure the whole thing is recorded live on a no-track cassette player. That’s my best effort. It’s stupid but you should really go our and buy this. Words cannot do The Dead C justice.
The Sonic Youth vibe is really strong on the first disc and some of the tracks are remarkable. Maggot and Helen Said This I’m sure are hits in some alternative universe and despite their experimental excursions just about everything on Disc 1 is a alterna-rock song. Just really fucking “out there” if you know what I mean.
The second disc is a much stranger beast. In their later recordings the band abandon the need to conform to anything so petty as a song structure. Sure the production gets better but lyrics are (mostly) abandoned and the whole experience becomes much more unsettling. Voodoo Spell is a cracker of psychedelic, tuneless electronica. Head is a eleven minutes of a meandering Sonic Youth/ Kraut Rock style guitar jam.
The Dead C are being name dropped as one of the grandfathers of experimental rock and even the current noise scene. Sure there are a couple of experimental noise tracks on Vain but if your expecting to find the precursor to Yellow Swans then you’re going to be really fucking disappointed. The Dead C are a rock band but they’re so far underground they’re hitting magma.