The Return of Black Dice

There’s no compromising Brooklyn’s radical, lovable noise artists as they drop their fifth album Repo.

Text by Terence Teh

“To me, every song is a different step somewhere new. In that way, this is an entirely different record that is from now rather than then. It just feels like a new head on top of the totem,” says Black Dice’s Eric Copeland, who specialises in battering sonics into submission alongside brothers Bjorn and Aaron Warren. Repo, the trio’s fifth album of chugging noise and freak show electronic experiments is released on their mates Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label, although back in 2002 they released Beaches & Canyons on DFA. From those jaded days of “Losing My Edge” NYC, Black Dice might have evolved, yet their brilliant noise and chaotic form of communication is still as indescribable and inspiring as ever.

If you guys made music in the desert rather than Brooklyn, it would be different?
There are a million factors at play for all of us. Some of them are external. So creating in a desert would yield very different results than a city. Would it still be Black Dice? Obviously, we’d be working with ourselves, so the music would still reflect our ideas. The main difference between the two locales, for me personally, is simply that Brooklyn is home to me while the desert is not. This would be my main point of comparison.
Aaron Warren: We would need two coconuts, 10 Marshall stacks and one Mackie mixer. Roughly the set would be about the same, but would wanna be transported by camel exclusively.

Every Black Dice album seems to evolves with the time that it was made, what pop culture references influenced Repo?
I don’t think it’s quite that easy man. To me, I’m not looking for references from pop culture, nor am I trying to communicate on that level. I think we’re all very aware of pop culture right now - highly watched presidential election, global economic catastrophe, wars, politicians getting busted, MTA fare hikes... all this to me is pop culture. I just don’t feel like we’re offering an escape from that; I feel like we’re working from all this as a foundation and creating something within that world that doesn’t communicate the same general feeling of fear and dread. It’s not the time to drop out; we’re all in this on together.

Can you talk about your ambitions with Black Dice?
We’d like to figure out a way to keep it going. not always the easiest thing to do right now... maybe a new practice space?
AW: I would like to play on national TV. Or be able to pay rent at practice space. Or someday maybe both if at all possible.

Do you find that your art is a symbiotic communication with your music?
There are similar motivations and methods between musical creation and paper creation. For me, I have to treat them both the same. I am not a trained musician nor artist, so for me it is more about playing with the material until I’m happy. And the understanding that paper creations take me a long time, I am still figuring out what I can do with it. But having an unclear/unfocused future or goal can feel pretty liberating. I still feel like I’ve got a lot to learn.

AW: For me, as crude as my musical skills are, my visual sensibility is even rawer. The practices are similar in that I am always struggling against my own ability to make something I think sounds/looks cool yet is innovative and essential enough to foist on others. And that is not always a piece of cake, nor should it be.

Weirdly, I feel there’s always been a hip hop alchemy to your music, and on the new album “Ultra Vomit Craze” is a pretty surprising hip hop track?
EC: Maybe this brings us back to your first question. I hear more hip hop every day outside my window than I can control. I may not even hear the song, but the beat is usually somewhere in my neighbourhood. I don’t feel like we’re a hip hop band, but by having it as a constant presence, I feel like they are ever present ideas/influences. I feel like if the world is communicating this to us, then who are we to turn it down, right?
AW: I did not listen to nor enjoy hip hop ‘til about 2003, but now it’s about the only new music I like, though there’s plenty of trash out there hiding the gold. “Ultra Vomit Craze” is about pushing our own comfort limits, rocking out unabashedly, yet trying to avoid sounding too much like Linkin Park in the process.

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