This will never get old
The Black Dice
After the Double played Interpol’s third record for us, after M.I.A. got spotted in a St. Mark’s Thai restaurant dressed as M.I.A., after the Irving bouncer explained that the V.I.P. section “had some chairs and shit–you know, to sit on,” the Black Dice broke ears forty minutes: three dudes, prov style visuals, shimmery guitar and vocal hooks processed deep in clip-clap percussion-heavy samples and your favorite rote drones. Some dancing too. Yep, these guys do all the work for you.
Comb the chives, you’ll see my main struggle with noise shows has always boiled down to: Can I divine some logic out of the crazy shit that’s happening in front of me. Lots of these gigs are BYOB–bring your own bullshit–as we pick and choose sounds and talk about growth and expansion of ideas and expectation-breaking and pure atonal punishment, heathen shame, etc. It’s a fun game, occasionally fulfilling, most times a gamble, always thought alchemy.
“I havent [sic] heard teh [sic] recording yet either, so i cant [sic] make heads or tails of this play-by-play stuff ’til later,” said a noise guy once, underscoring that a good deal of Brooklyn discounts consciousness for the sake of surprise, another undirected, uninhibited money shot they can piecemeal into their next full-length. Hey, it works–but you’re basically paying to see them rehearse, and “them,” really, are just people who’ve decided their audio ramblings mean more than your audio ramblings. That’s the line; they crossed it.
The Dice did that long ago, I get the sense. Honestly they used to put on some pretty fucking miserable live shows, and I’ve heard nightmare stories re: their shardcore days. But with each new LP they take much more control over their sounds–little happens by accident anymore, seems–and even the looser parts come across decidedly so. These aren’t jams or paid rehearsals or piss-takings, they’re songs through and through, and fail/succeed on those terms too–more value in structure, less of a genius’s free pass.
Relatively speaking, the Black Dice place almost no burden on the listener to make sense of what they’re doing on stage, where a song is going, etc. The gorgeous visuals, in sync with the music, even prophesized the band’s next move: When the sounds would partake in tone, traditional conceptions of music, etc., the visuals would morph from abstractions to discernible figures. When “Street Dude” mellowed out at the end into harmonized vocal drones and campfire guitar, it looked a man trying to break out of the screen, banging up against it like Carrey in The Truman Show or a baby in a playpen.
Which caters a bit to my piece on the Black Dice: They’re not noise, they’re pop, writing pop songs in unusual and roundabout ways. We can speak of hooks, like the chitter-chatter guitar line of “Smiling Off” and the percussion counterpoints, or the do-si-do cum fire-round shouts of “Motorcycle”–as catchy as anything on the radio. Friday these moments hit me like atomic grape shots, colorful and sensical and most memorable, your post-theater showtune whistling deals. Do you like showtunes?