Black Dice

Beaches & Canyons

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And now for something completely different. After two full-length discs and several singles of avant-core that came off like Void covering Metal Machine Music, the noisy Rhode Island warmongers slipped into something a little less comfortable on Beaches and Canyons. Even though the disc might appear a more docile dossier on the surface, what with skronk replaced by electronic chirps and more silence in the space of one disc than Black Dice had accumulated in its career to date, a look beneath sees the vitriol hasn't vanished, it's just morphed into something else. "Endless Happiness" by itself is indicative of this: It starts off with tranquil recorders piping atop symphonic synth blurbs for about five minutes before John Bonham-like percussion shakes life into the track, which gradually increases tempo and timbre and tenor and tumults for another four minutes, whereby it slips into the sound of the sands washed in a pleasant tide, which plays out the last five minutes of the track, making it about three-quarters (relatively) silent but deadly. Even disc-closer "Big Drop," the most abrasive cut to make the cut, is more artifice than facetiousness, relying on the hum of electric pulsations to make its points far more than the horrific screams that are reminiscent of John Zorn's most metal moods. The combination of brain and brawn is a revelation for the band, and their enthusiasm alone would be enough to carry Beaches and Canyons, yet that enthusiasm by itself only scratches the surface.

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