Black Dice Creature Comforts

[DFA/Fat Cat; 2004]

Rating: 5/5

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

Black Dice themselves probably have the right idea when it comes to listening to this album. When I interviewed them, they said that at a listening party with their pals Animal Collective they kept laughing at the sounds they heard on the album, because they're so far out there. For their entire history, Black Dice have been transient in their style, never staying in one comfortable place for too long. First it was flat out thrash, then they mediated that with more abstract sounds, and finally abandoned the thrash altogether on their stellar Beaches & Canyons, adopting some elements of found sound to go with the otherworldly drones. Then came the rhythmic and almost danceable "Cone Toaster" single, which was followed by a release on the complete opposite end of the spectrum with the meditative Miles of Smiles EP. And that brings us up to Creature Comforts.

Now, as I hinted at above, an open mind and possibly a sense of humor are essential to accessing this album. I feel like if you're interested in Black Dice, I shouldn't have to tell you that; but I'm sure Black Dice would be first to attest that people are often stuck in their preferences. So, now you're ready to just let the music flow over you, with no preconceived notions, right? Of course not. And I might be making assumptions here, but I think this album banks on that fact heavily. Which is to say this record strikes out into territory that hasn't been explored from a "rock" standpoint, hoping to make the listener say "What the fuck?" But, to back off of that position for a moment, this isn't just art for art's sake. These songs are well thought out and pleasant to listen to, if you're into this sort of thing. Drums have largely been abandoned, and sounds that I can't identify drive most of the songs rhythmically. That's right, most of the songs are rhythmic. They get your body interested with the rhythm, and then fuck your mind with the sounds.

I don't know if this is one of the bravest or boldest albums of the year, but its definitely one of the neatest. I find music all the time that creates contexts for musics that I had previously thought completely individual and incomparable, which is what I might call this album. I hope I'd be wrong and there's a heap of similar stuff lurking as precedent somewhere in the shadows of music. But, if I would be right in doing so, kudos to you, Black Dice. Fuck 'em.

1. Cloud Pleaser
2. Treetops
3. Island
4. Creature
5. Live Loop
6. Skeleton
7. Schwip Schwap
8. Night Flight