Black Dice Mr Impossible(Ribbon) Buy it from Insound
Black Dice have been peddling (I wouldn’t say refining) their particular raucous take on art-rock for 15 years now, over the course of six studio albums and numerous singles, EPs and collaborations. From their early days playing a kind of post-hardcore thrash, through to their current incarnation they have always been a somewhat acquired taste, treading a fine line between tightly constructed experiments in sound and adolescent goofball tomfoolery. The new album contains its fair share of both elements of the band’s sound, sometimes with a degree of success, but often grating and a little tiresome.
There are album highlights worth checking out. Pigs is a mutated dancefloor filler, a kind of freakoid rave-punk that actually contains a surprisingly funky underbelly, making your feet and ass move, while making your head go “wtf?” The vocals here, as elsewhere on the album, fall somewhere between ritualistic chant and nonsensical chatter. Pinball Wizard (most definitively not a Who cover) kicks things off, sounding like the soundtrack to the most crazed video game you’ve ever played, while the brilliantly titled Shithouse Drifter is primal. These tracks stand out from the rest by following a fairly tight structure, within which the band indulge their baser instincts for noise creation and abrasion. Elsewhere the structure collapses somewhat and the result is a formless and irritating mess – trying the listeners’ patience and challenging him or her not to reach for the off button. Of course that could be Black Dice’s intention; in which case the album is an unqualified success.
To be as positive as I can, there is a laudably uncompromising quality to the album which I admire. But by the time I get to album finale Brunswick Sludge I find myself getting a little bored with it all. There’s only so much wacky noise experimentation I can take in one go. Fellow travellers such as Lightning Bolt or Boredoms may on the face it have a similar aesthetic, but for me the difference between them and Black Dice lies in their respective hunger for sonic adventure. With the Dice there is a nagging sense that I’ve heard it all before, whereas those other bands can constantly surprise – I can sit through Wonderful Rainbow say, or Vision Creation Newsun without my mind wandering. It’s good that Black Dice exist, and Mr Impossible is by no means a bad album. I just wish it lived up to its noise terror potential, and that maybe the band could remove its collective tongue from its cheek.21 June, 2012 - 10:30 — David John Wood