Black Dice: Beaches & Canyons

Black Dice: Beaches & Canyons

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Black Dice

Album: Beaches & Canyons
Label: DFA

Known for live shows built around bleating noise bursts and lights-out fits of violence, Black Dice started as an art-school project that exploited hardcore as a means more than an end. Big on the skeletal post-punk scene surrounding Lightning Bolt and fellow wanderers on the Troubleman Unlimited label, the Brooklyn band rested its reputation on infamy, but music played a mostly incidental role in the theater of it all. Still staging notorious shows where volume—as a measure of both decibel levels and mass—serves as a main muse, the band shows its newfound devotion to control on Beaches & Canyons, an anxious ambient album more given to mystical reverence than any hard-and-fast punk rules. Opening with chirping electronics and loose-fitting tribal thumping, Beaches plays like a tribute to esoteric sections of record stores where Japanese noise rests up against Balian monkey chants. "Things Will Never Be The Same" glides through foreboding solar winds, enlisting baby cries and sandpaper textures on its way toward muted screaming release. "The Dream Is Going Down" matches overdriven feedback hum to distant vocal melodies drenched in supersaturated effects. Over the course of five extended songs, Black Dice divines an impressively singular brand of noise that rethinks the conflict between soothing and grating. The music reveals its live origins with overlong reliance on certain riffs and occasional stumbles too messy to be thoroughly thought out. But by mixing the brooding tension of Suicide with the earthy ambience of On Land-era Brian Eno, Beaches & Canyons hints at a realm of grimy urban psychedelia that casts the '60s as just one part of a history too distant to reveal itself as more than a blur.