Review ·

In his book Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks discusses a phenomenon sometimes called dystimbria. Sufferers of dystimbria are unable to hear musical notes and melodies in the way most people can. Unwitting victims of these symptoms find listening to any type of music analogous to, in Sacks’s words, “pots and pans being thrown around the kitchen.”


The members of Black Dice seem to be in an accelerated state of dystimbria. They’ve spent the best part of 10 years unleashing a furious battle between ugly and beautiful sounds that have been wrung from a pile of barely functioning equipment. I like to imagine Aaron Warren and brothers Eric and Bjorn Copeland hearing gentle symphonies as they play, blissfully unaware that they’re ripping and tearing at the human ear until it’s pummeled into dysfunction.

Repo, the band’s second album for Paw Tracks since leaving DFA, is a familiar collection of discordant samples, muffled vocals and barely discernible guitar lines. Their approach continues to lack the kind of standard sequencing commonly found in electronic music, causing Black Dice songs to purposely lack finesse. The band members never seem to be in control of the sounds that lay at their fingertips. In fact, it often feels like the sounds are controlling them. It’s easy to imagine the band being chased around the studio by a distended heap of FX pedals, wires and angry metal boxes.

Opener “Nite Cream” sets the standard, and is an approximate continuation of ideas captured on 2007’s Load Blown. Bulbous Beefheartian rhythms stammer into life and a batch of misshapen samples steadily fall and rise in the mix. They have a fascination with faltering, ploddy rhythms (see also: “Idiot’s Pasture” and “Lazy TV”) that are littered with repugnant belches, wheezes and fragments of found sounds. Repo is caked in a thick layer of crud, triggering an auditory experience not dissimilar to waking in a paralyzed hallucinogenic state from a deep bout of sleep paralysis.

Even when they play it light, on poppier tracks such as “Glazin” or “Earnings Plus Interest,” there’s a frivolity at work, a need to constantly tamper to provoke amusement or repulsion. “La Cucaracha” is driven by samples taken from an orgy, recalling the White Noise’s “My Game of Loving,” while the brief “Buddy” is full of anguished screams and warped dialogue. The tawdry and decaying textures at work in Repo would make a perfectly squalid soundtrack to Z-grade horror flicks such as Buddy Giovinazzo’s Combat Shock or Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case.

In his passages on dystimbria, Sacks discusses the case of a man for whom music simply resembled the sound of “a screeching car.” The concept of someone with no tangible experience of music is doubtless baffling to most people, but it’s a state of being that the members of Black Dice often seem to appropriate. They never sound like they’ve mastered an instrument, or thought about the conventions of chords, notes, sequencing and structure. Repo isn’t a great progression from previous Black Dice records. But their willfully amateurish approach, and a continued fascination with the coarse and the crude, make this another welcome addition to their woozy, dog-eared oeuvre.







  • Night Cream
  • Glazin
  • Earnings Plus Interest
  • Whirligig
  • La Cucaracha
  • Idiots Pasture
  • Lazy
  • Buddy
  • Inches
  • Vegetable
  • Urban Super Mist
  • Ultra Vomit
  • Gag Shack

The frazzled and fractured electronic rhythms of Brooklyn noisemakers Black Dice are bent into shape once again on this fifth studio album from the band. The album, titled Repo, is comprised of home recordings and sessions from New York’s Rare Book Room studios. It’s another fine example of Black Dice’s singular aesthetic, which has been carefully honed through years of equipment abuse in low rent venues, art galleries and other improvised performance spaces. The record comes with a 20-page book of artwork from Black Dice, which is executed in a similar manner to their 2006 excursion into publishing with photographer Frank Rothernberg, titled GORE.

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Heard the promo copy of it. I did not expect much of this new Black Dice record because they have not made anything that I have actually like since maybe 2002. It seems like they get worse with each record.

I heard the promo of Repo and it's definitely continuing the cycle of things getting worse for them. 90% of the album are like hip-hop samples and samples of everyday things mixed with dumb digital beats. The album sounds more like a solo project by Eric. All in all it sounds like an experimental album from the metal/hip-hop community, maybe that's the audience they are now trying to go for but then again most of the fans they are nothing but 15 year old skaters on their first acid trips. And they did start out a an emo screamo Boredoms sort of a band, so maybe this is just what they are into.

I am just saying that people who are looking for some gentle psychedelic trust-fund kids psychedelic, like their pals in Animal Collective, they are not going to find it on Repo. In other words the black rimmed glasses set who read Vice as a bible and listen to the poppy happy world of their label mates Animal Collective will not be rocking this one too on their shiny ipods that hang from their new RCVA messenger bags. Maybe that's a good thing.



What should I listen to?


tony is an idiot


Black Dice have yet to release an album that is boring. They make experimental music with a solid hardcore aesthetic/intensity yet their sonics (Post-Creature Comforts) are like that of no other band. Really disorientating and beautiful stuff. I think people who don't 'get it' interact with music within the confines of indie.. they want music that puts them in a slumber rather than touch a raw nerve.


Black dice is my favorite band, but not necessarily because I can go on and on about how amazing they are, or because I think they make moving, life changing or even thoroughly enjoyable music. There are plenty of musicians out there making excellent music that is all those things, and more power to them, but those albums only stay on my ipod for a month or two at most because their intentions are so clear that once I get the point I can't really get any more out of it.
Black dice records like Load blown and Repo are so diverse, unpredictable and just plain silly that I hear them differently and I feel that I can get something new out of them every time I listen. the experience is never as simple as any emotion that has a name. Not pleasure or pain, just a completely open aesthetic feeling: abstract, liberating and no-one's but mine. This is the kind of thing that just keeps bringing me back again and again.
Most people don't seem to have the patience for that kind of musical enjoyment, and I feel bad for them, but that's just the way art seems to work.


tony, brah, when you call out black dice as screamo and shiz, boredomsesque even, i assume you either haven't heard their thrashtasticly hardcore early works or your ears and or taste are just plain weirder than mine. these guys have spanned an incredible breadth of soundscapes throughout their lengthly career. recent opportunities to garner greater mainstream notoriety like some labelmates hasn't changed them yet. i'll get the record later today and be back on here if i think any different after a listen. hands down bd are the most pleasurably malleable act to keep trying new things of this part of my life. i don't know where you get off seeing them as anything but psychedelic missionaries to thoughtfully unique tunes. also, for the record, this site made me change shi t to shiz above. fuc king gay


I heard a copy of the album a few weeks ago at WNYU. And while I liked a few elements of it, the album all together was something easy to forget. Waste of time really. I listen to mostly experimental stuff. I agree with some of the points Tony made. at least the musical points he made not so much with the cultural but maybe that has some truth too. Either way, as long as they are best friends with the happy shopping mall popsters of Animal Collective they will probably never have an album rejected before release for Paw Tracks. There is definitely much better experimental music out there, just do your research and listen.


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