Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Show review: Black Dice, The Hecks at Bottom Lounge, 5/7

By Gene Wagendorf III

The Hecks
On an evening where the city was draped in a thick layer of fog, The Hecks provided a most appropriate soundtrack. At times devilishly ominous, then surprisingly bright, the Chicago duo's only misstep was not having any music for me to purchase post-show. Grimy riffing slogged over focused, pugilistic percussion to create a tension almost as thick as the brume outside. The songs, at their best, were interesting musical moments strung together by adept pacing and knowing restraint. A soft melody aped the sounds of a city slowly being taken apart. Dissonant chimes exploded into clinking whirlpools, howling guitars abruptly halted and bowed to subdued pop licks and danceable beats. Vocals rolled out like warm taffy over the noise, at times lacking punch but never misunderstanding their place in the music. As each collection of sound reached it's logical conclusion The Hecks jerked the reigns and shifted aim. Like any good jockey, the band knew when to push and when to ease up. I couldn't help but feel like I was witnessing the beginnings of something fantastic. Let's get these guys a record, eh?

Headlining the CHIRP Radio event, Brooklyn's Black Dice kicked off their set with intense, throbbing bass and rapid-fire clapping. Wet, electric snakes warbled lines across bursts of fuzz and reverb-soaked caveman yawlp vocal noises. If that already sounds obnoxious and abstract, then this wasn't the set for you. Black Dice have built their reputation as an electronic deconstruction outfit by tearing sound apart and lacing it together. Sometimes that hodgepodge of musical influences and futurist thinking creates moments of carnal joy and brilliance, and sometimes it collapses under it's own weight. One of their most baffling and entertaining numbers evoked a dystopian zoo- moody pulsing and hip-hop muscle laying the framework for the cries of cyborg antelopes, flocks of squawking android birds and one lonely and loud robo-elephant. Abruptly halted by a sloppy dirge, the tune bubbled into a mucky Crayola swamp filled with gurgles, blips and house beats. 

Black Dice
Touring in support of their new album, Broken Ear Record, Black Dice had the crowd drifting and bopping along to bits of African pop and industrial anvil rain. This is the stoner music of the next millennium--groovy enough to lounge to and exciting enough to get lost in. Come to think of it, perhaps that wasn't fog outside. As if to be sure no one was too hypnotized to register the cacophony, Black Dice conjured up a swell of ambulance sirens that warbled so furiously they took up tangible space. Imagine being sucked into The Blob, but greeting that fate with a religious joy. 

By the end of the show Black Dice had shuffled in almost every sound in their arsenal, but they'd lost some of the magic. During the last third of the set the island beats and tropical blurping had faded. Wah-wah melodies and walls of glob alarms gave way to looped zips and redundant bass. Maybe the high was wearing off, but even the band looked bored by the end. The last song, which hammered on a tight collection of noises endlessly, was a far cry from the laser swells and manic energy of earlier. I was left with a strange sense of relief and contentment at the end. Black Dice had taken me someplace fascinating and peculiar, but by the end it was nice to be home again.

1 comment:

  1. That was one of the best performance that I have ever seen! I'm still looking for more update about their next concert.

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