Photo by Jason Frank RothenbergBlack Dice
It's still not easy listening, but Black Dice does announce a cease fire with this latest album. Previous full-lengths found the band pushing the limits of aggro-noise rock, but Creature Comforts is a harnessed affair that rarely hints at the brawn of their earlier recordings. Instead, it's an entirely different strategy of resistance—a psychological assault by the otherworldly and unfamiliar, a more advanced form of torture than crash and clangor. It sounds like a bustling urban jungle on an alien planet . . . yet it simultaneously does not sound like a bustling urban jungle on an alien planet. See—torture! And the confusion sets in immediately. Opener "Cloud Pleaser" presents us with a mutant mechanical-robot frog's bleeps and ribbits, quickly devolving into mechanical meltdown on the herky-jerky "Treetops"; the chaos on tracks such as "Live Loop" and "Schwip Schwap" perforates into patches of fuzzed-out splendor. As a soundscape, it's the movie Fire in the Sky: deep dark woods forever, and then when you finally get to a clearing, the UFOs show up. Black Dice hasn't totally abandoned themselves to the drone, echo, scratches and bleeps, but they still deny listeners complete surrender—this is as subtle as brutal gets.