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Black Dice / Erase Errata - Split 7"

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Artist: Black Dice / Erase Errata

Album: Split 7"

Label: Troubleman Unlimited

Review date: Apr. 20, 2002

Black Dice live: do they know what they're doing? If I ask, will they hit me? Black Dice are part of the Providence-Brooklyn noise axis, playing on the floor and playing loud, but their particular spectacle is less about technical beatdowns (cf. Lightning Bolt) than thick waves of chaos, freeform banging and screeching with clear plastic guitars and samplers wrapped in duct tape. And the threat of violence, rumors (true? false?) of knockdown brawls and instruments swung at audience members. Do I listen for overtones in the wall of feedback, or do I get the hell out of the way? Both?

Maybe it's best not to ask questions. The visceral impact of live Black Dice makes issues of technique beside the point. Their contribution to a Troubleman split 7" with Erase Errata raises and dismisses similar questions with five minutes of minimal sound effect tweaking: carefully arranged or just stuck together? Who cares - I like what I'm hearing; "Untitled 5.5" sounds like laptop glitch electronics played on actual instruments, a quietly threatening collection of clicks and braps, shreds of practice-room dialogue, sirens and bird calls, occasional shrieking. It holds my attention, which is key, replacing predictable tension-release buildups with sound that appears and disappears without warning. Anti-style is deceptively hard to pull off; an open secret -"free-form" music involves more than just half-assed form - is the method to Black Dice's madness.

Erase Errata, a San Francisco four-piece, play angular art-punk clang, more conventionally structured than Black Dice but no less worthwhile. "French Canadia" is propulsive clatter at its finest, tightly knotted guitars and no wave sax sleaze, taken from their Troubleman LP, Other Animals; "The Shade" is strident but less threatening, an inconsequential non-album track with shouted group vocals and no saxophone. Troubleman is one of today's most consistently exciting labels, extensively documenting the growing avant-punk scene; they've succeeded again with this split, although I would have preferred all-new material from Erase Errata. Fans of either band, and of creative abrasion in general, should check this one out.

By Nicholas Webb

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