Since both Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth are reportedly fans of this New Zealand noise trio, one hesitates to criticize. But Secret Earth is something of a disappointment. It consists of two long and two very long tracks: "Mansions" (clocking in at seven minutes, it's one of the shorter entries) is loud, messy, and shambolic -- the guitar sound is fat and splashy and chaotic, the vocals are distorted and laconic, and the whole thing sounds a bit like Dinosaur Jr. on Quaaludes. "Stations" features 16 minutes of even messier noise: piles and piles of feedback are layered on top of each other in a structure that is constantly on the verge of collapse, concealing tinny drums and what sounds like a very unhappy dog; the vocals, such as they are, are completely fuzzed up and almost completely buried. With "Plains" (nine and a half minutes) the band's sound is getting progressively more distant and distorted. On this one, everything sounds as if it were recorded in a garage and then mixed down through a cardboard shipping tube. Paradoxically, the lyrics are actually intelligible on this song, and it actually starts rocking out in a relatively conventional way at around the eight-minute mark. "Waves" brings things to a close with roiling clouds of guitar clangor and feedback; a few minutes into the track everything suddenly calms down, and then the intensity gradually builds up before plateauing and staying at that level for the remaining ten minutes. It's hard not to compare these guys to Lightning Bolt, who can make this kind of music sound like a matter of life or death. On Secret Earth, Dead C sound like guys who are just making a lot of noise and aren't necessarily even having much fun doing it.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson