Black Dice Broken Ear Record

[DFA; 2005]

Styles: noise, dance, house, urban, industrial, tribal
Others: Animal Collective, Excepter, Throbbing Gristle

My Journal

Day 1: August 15, 2005

I download the new Black Dice record today. I get really excited and listen to Broken Ear Record drunk on gin with my friends. We all agree the album is not as forceful or compelling as the last two BD full-lengths. We are surprised we can nod our heads to every song. "Smiling Off" proves to be the best track on the album, a bizarre nine-minute journey that blossoms into a bona fide noise single four minutes into the chaos. And it is the single! The record is pretty good... three point five out of five.

Day 2: August 16, 2005

I listen to the album three times today. Oh man, Black Dice are totally brilliant. Creature Comforts and Beaches and Canyons were both overwhelmingly cohesive records, and after much pondering alone in my closet-sized apartment, I think I've found the concept behind this effort. Broken Ear Record is Black Dice's attempt to make a mainstream album. And how could the noise tendencies of Black Dice be mainstream? By bringing the R&B rap funk urban beats! Seriously, you can nod to the whole record””especially "Smiling Off" and the Talking-Heads-meets-dying-robot-meets-cannibal-anthem of "Motorcycle." There's even a song called "Street Dude." Maybe now, with DFA connected to major label distribution -- via Astralwerks -- the Dicers felt they might as well pretend they can be a radio band. And then they laugh their heads off as they make an awesome noise-dance record. "Smiling Off" is still awesome, but "Motorcycle" is closest to the best track they've ever recorded. And "Snarly Yow" is carpet rave... all textured beats. This whole record amazes me, even the too-short repetitive "ABA." How can they come around and do this every time? God damn! Five out of five.

Day 3: August 17, 2005

The problem with Broken Ear Record is that, although it's a very, very good Black Dice album, it doesn't introduce any new sounds. Beaches and Canyons was a watershed of shimmering guitars, psychedelia, and tribal rhythms. Creature Comforts also opened up a whole new world of foreboding animal and jungle noises, while doubling the rhythmic complexity. Only "Motorcycle" really pushes Black Dice forward on this album, using live instrumentation over a repetitive bass drum to hit new heights of tribal noise insanity before breaking apart. "Twins" also succeeds admirably by letting squeals talk to squeaks, pulsing with wattage; "Twins" single-handedly makes the Dicers sound more like a real band than any other DFA-era track. Four out of five.

Day 4: August 18, 2005

Okay, so "Smiling Off," "Twins," and "Motorcycle" are all really awesome Black Dice songs. And "Snarly Yow" rules, too. But I've started skipping the others. Four out of five.

Day 5: August 19, 2005

I only listen to "Street Dude" today. It's really, really great. I should ride my bike more often. Four point five out of five.

Day 6: August 20, 2005

Holy shit! "Snarly Yow" is totally crazy! Why didn't I realize how awesome it is before? The cranky tuba meets static stomp gets a little repetitive... but hey, I guess the future will be pretty repetitive too, won't it? Five out of five.

Day 7: August 21, 2005

I try to put "Motorcycle" on at a party. It works for like two minutes. Five out of five.

Day 8: August 22, 2005

I take a break from Black Dice today. I drive down the highway with my little brother in our Saturn screaming "Crazy in Love" and "Dancing in the Dark." I can't rate the album today, I guess.

Day 8: August 23, 2005

This album just doesn't bewilder me like old Black Dice records. "Big Drop" and "Creature" really terrify me, and there's nothing as sonically vicious on Broken Ear Record. Maybe that's my fault -- for expecting such chaos -- because that's definitely not the goal here. The goal here is a noise-dance album, and they succeed admirably. But man, I just love it when the Dice men freak me out. Four point five out of five.

Day 22: September 6, 2005

I'm back in Chicago after a two-week journey through Montana to see mountains and bison and prairie dogs and national parks and lightning storms and blood-red moons and coyotes. Listening to the new Black Dice album just didn't cut it against the awesome power of nature, although Beaches and Canyons and Creature Comforts still did. I guess I have to get used to Broken Ear Record as an urban noise-dance album, not a monolithic taser of frightful emotion. "Heavy Manners" does try to static me out and "Snarly Yow" does indeed snarl... but alas. At least it's a pretty awesome urban noise-dance record. Four out of five.

Day 23, September 7, 2005

Oh yeah, and the album is not as much of a continuation of "Cone Toaster" as I'm guessing people will say. "Snarly Yow" and "Smiling Off" are, but the rest is just Black Dice making Black Dice music. You know, I should really stop thinking about it as a dance album and accept Broken Ear Record as an album of sounds. I keep trying to throw structure and my own trappings onto it, calling it an attempt at mainstream noise and whatnot. I don't care that Tiny Mix Tapes seems to have more inflated scores than other music sites; this is an awesome album and Black Dice are an awesome band. Four point five out of five.

Day 24, September 8, 2005

Okay, I waited a day and I still feel like I did yesterday. Print it. Four point five out of five.

Day 3,250,294, December 45, 2050

My wife and I were heading out of the space-house for New Year's but had to come back to get my laser-heart. We open the door to find our grandkids -- and their clones -- throwing a party in the docking station. They're drinking rocket-ahol and listening to my old mp3s while two of the kids alien-sex (I hope it's just a fad like the galaxy-news says) each other in the corner. "Motorcycle" is blaring. Maybe now it's just a four of five... eh.

1. Snarly Yow
2. 2. Smiling Off
3. Heavy Manners
4. ABA
5. Street Dude
6. Twins
7. Motorcycle