Black Dice – Broken Ear Record

Black Dice
Broken Ear Record

Sometimes there are bands that either outright defy classification or cause so much confusion that no one can slap a label on no matter how hard they try. The New York-based outfit Black Dice does a bit of both on 2005’s Broken Ear Record. This seven-track disc clocks in at less than 50 minutes of music that will either leave you thrilled or exhausted – or a bit of both depending on your feelings about noise-rock in general.

From the perspective of someone who generally doesn’t “get” a lot of experimental music, honing in on the crux of an album like this is a tough task. With no discernable melody or rhythm save a few constant notes here and there and with almost no vocals, Broken Ear Record is a bit of an enigma. The soundscape here is created with a variety of electronics and samples and the occasional drum beat or guitar loop. There’s little terra firma to be found anywhere here, and the off-kilter bursts of various sounds are almost completely alien.

Broken Ear Record’s shining moments are those tracks that seem to take a bit of shape, like “Smiling Off.” Although this song is the longest on the album at almost nine and a half minutes, it is easily one of the more cohesive. Perhaps this is due to the use of a thick bass beat and tribal-type percussion throughout as well as one of the disc’s only instances of vocals in the form of some sort of chanting that fits well with the drums. The final track, “Motorcycle,” is a vastly different song, but it also stands out for being a bit more consistent. Here odd squeaks and percussion are intertwined with a lovely bit of guitar that acts as the guiding force for the first half of the song.

Unlike many instrumental bands, Black Dice puts enough into each piece to keep things interesting and original. Although music lovers who normally don’t appreciate experimental noise will find some things of interest here, this is really an album for people who dig material a bit more avant-garde. Those with a true love of purely unconventional music will absolutely enjoy each of the tracks on Broken Ear Record.