Black Dice – Mr. Impossible

After three years away, Black Dice return to the table with their sixth album Mr Impossible and, while the odds can be stacked against their favour on first listen, the end result is a high-rolling high-stakes experimental-as-anything affair. On Mr Impossible, the sound can be described as the envelope-pushing music you’d hear floating at the now-defunct Buffalo Club – breakbeat electronica, chopped and skewed among video game-like beeps and bleeps. It’s odds-or-evens, music where there’s a 50 percent chance it’ll sit right, 50 percent chance it won’t, and that may hang on your mood or time of day (even the track names are hard to swallow sometimes). However, when it is the right time of day (i.e. night) and you’re in the right mood (i.e. scattered), Black Dice confirm to their listeners that they’re still aural alchemists: creation, expansion and compression of sound is their thing.
Album opener “Pinball Wizard” has a heroin heartbeat bass heaviness with transmogrified nonsensical vocals, guitars with traces and shadows, with 8-bit midi greatness like classic 70s video characters jumping over barrels. Not resting, “Rodriguez” has complex layering sounding like three alien communicators knocking at the door and laser cat meowing throughout. Two minutes and forty seconds in, pots-and-pans beats and distorted bass come in, sirens abound, and Mario coin sounds. “The Jacker” throws it all at once – backwards sounds from knobs twiddled like a Gaslamp Killer stopgap performance with yelling in the fade. Later on, progression of beeps slowly and slowly get higher and higher. “Pigs” once again has it all and the kitchen sink: robotic jibberjabber, industrial sawing, and chomping up of vocals later on in the track as if Black Dice are speaking in tongues.
It is a packed album with many sounds but it’s when the music breathes that it tends to stand out: next track “Spy Vs. Spy” settles with dripping bass and buzzing electro insects lurking. It’s immersive, and definitely bombed-out-of-your-skull music, especially when the buzzing riff over thunderstorm and TRON claps come in.
“Outer Body Drifter” returns to the fold, with echoed bass drum, clinkers going overdrive and ranting and hypo-glam synths. The name says it all, as it’s another heroin-chic nonsense dancing industrial electro sound, before doing a backflip into snares and synth-y flares. “Shithouse Drifter” contains plodding and whirring with malfunctioning bleeps as if someone is banging on a metallic sheet.
Once again, the album hits its stride once more conventional sounds and a lower tempo are introduced. “Carnitas” is an eight-minute water-y jaunt, where drowning can be considered bliss. Brooding, bubbling breakbeat, there are dense layers, as if a friend were talking to you underwater in a refreshing spring. Mudslinging- titled closer “Brunswick Sludge” has hip hop drums that hold the distorted vocals and hardcore spacey shit together, then dissolves completely.
Mr Impossible is not an, ahem, impossible listen, though it does have its obstacles and challenges –creatively arty individuals from Brooklyn, no surefire singles; it could easily slot in as PA music at a trendy art gallery. Be sure to plan for disappointment but maybe expect some standout winners, though those standouts can’t be guaranteed on first listen.
by David Claridad

May 18th 2012
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