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Black Dice | Repo

Paw Tracks (2009)
By MICHAEL PATRICK BRADY  |  April 6, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars


Spearheaded by Brooklyn trio Black Dice and their peers, American noise rock is less like the pure noise of Merzbow and more like a renewal of dark, grinding industrial rhythms. Indeed, much of Black Dice's fifth album smacks of SPK or Cabaret Voltaire, and when they follow those influences, their work is often compelling.

"Lazy TV" and "La Cucaracha" are surprising and spontaneous, even as their pulsing, mechanistic beats sound like the dying groans of decaying machinery. When the group try to get less synthetic and give their compositions shape and danceability, however, their efforts are weak and half-hearted. "Earnings Plus Interest" could belong to a compilation of breakbeats intended for sampling, the band lazily drooping digital squiggles on the drum loop. "Vegetable" makes use of a loosely tuned acoustic guitar that flanges tediously back and forth for a brief two minutes; it sounds like an Animal Collective cast-off.

And for an experimental album, Repo does little to elaborate on the formula Black Dice plotted on Creature Comforts and Load Blown. Fans will welcome the grotesquely titled "Ultra Vomit Craze" and "Gag Shack," reveling in subtle mood shifts found amid the ferocious racket. Skeptics and nay-sayers will remain unconvinced of the genre's ability to move beyond bratty outbursts.
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