Black Dice


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Black Dice are as engaging and deranged as ever, and their fifth album is yet another one of their warped takes on electronic soundscaping. Full of whirs, buzzes, and glitchy blips galore -- like the mind of a robot as it runs out of batteries -- Repo finds the Rhode Islanders a long way from their noise rock roots. The pacing is more manic and the skronk is set to overdrive. Where Beaches and Canyons gave listeners time to breathe by way of ambience and spatial time outs, Repo is a constant blur of fractured mechanics. Even compared to 2004’s Broken Ear Record, which seemed jam-packed, Repo feels whirlwinded together especially with attention-deficient and drug-addled listeners in mind. Maddening noises and twists are crammed into the songs, and the sounds are rendered inscrutable through filters and mangled beyond recognition. Under all the crisp cracks, processed gurgles, phased splashes, and hip-hop fragments, the occasional shout, vocal gasp, or random trippy soundbite will sneak through the cracks, as if to mark a point of reference in the sonic wastelands (a sample of Steve Miller singing “Get high and watch the tunes,” for instance). At the surface, even though the instruments are hard to decipher, this is an instrumental album -- a squelchy instrumental album that pushes the envelope hard to the left. Sometimes the circuit-bent crudeness borders on intolerable, but when things come together, as they do in the gooey dub of “Glazin” and the screwed muck of "Lazy TV," certain aspects hint at a melody and it all makes absolute sense, in some wonderful sort of bizarro-world way. Either Black Dice have brilliantly discovered and unlocked the future sounds of music, or it’s just the sound of a couple grown men banging their gear through too many effects pedals. It seems too meticulously crafted for that. Odds are it’s the former.

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