At Data Breaker Towers, we believe that it is impossible for music to be too weird. We are staunch advocates of bizarre sounds, the stranger the better. Which is why we flipped when Paw Tracks announced it would be releasing Terrestrial Tones' third album, Dead Drunk. A collab between Black Dice's Eric Copeland and Animal Collective's Dave Portner (AKA Avey Tare), Terrestrial Tones is one of those what-if match-ups that rarely come to fruition. However, the Brooklyn duo managed to record this disc on the sly in Paris last summer while their main gigs were on hiatus.
Fortunately for weird-music lovers, Dead Drunk tilts more toward the Black Dice side of the equation. With Animal Collective gravitating toward a frothy Beach Boys/Mercury Rev approach to songcraft, all starry-eyed melodies and vocals dialed in to "childlike wonder" mode, they've shed some fans who dug earlier head-scratching efforts like Here Comes the Indian and Danse Manatee. Which is not to belittle AC discs like Sung Tongs and Feels; both have moments of inspired, skewed-pop whimsy. But for listeners of a certain delirious bent, AC have gone somewhat astray. This isn't the case with Black Dice. Each of their three albums for DFA Records has featured some of the scene's most surrealistic and disturbing tone painting and unexpectedly riveting rhythmic undertows.
But with Dead Drunk, TT de-emphasize beats and focus on textural topiary. The results may surpass even Black Dice's most vertiginous forays into sound mutation. Disc opener "Car Fumes" starts with what sounds like an organ/marimba lock groove of Terry Riley's In C overlaid with Gibby Haynes–like jabber, spluttering duck-squawk, and distressed analog-synth squalls. Fortunately for your sanity, the track graciously trails off with some gorgeous, serene Beaches & Canyons—style ambience. However, with "The Sailor," TT thrust you back into a psychotropic maelstrom of nefariously tweaked voices stereo-panned into a collage of demonic tectonics. The Throbbing Gristle–like "Gargoyle" exacerbates the madness with electronic gargles, strangled monk chants, distant abattoir grindings, and tormented squeals. By the time the album finale, "This Weekend Now," swings into earshot, it may be too late to save your precarious grip on reality. A grotesque Tower of Babel festooned with barbed-wire electronics, warped car alarms, elephant snores, hippo belches, wasp-wing friction, and death rattles, this track is the culmination of a lifetime's worth of harrowing encounters with hallucinogens. Sounds like my kind of party.
Terrestrial Tones engineer every sound granule to subvert your equilibrium and induce teeming, irrational thoughts. You don't have to be on drugs to appreciate the music, but this is no time for moderation. Your mind is an ongoing experiment and Terrestrial Tones cunningly wield the electrodes. DAVE SEGAL
More info: www.paw-tracks.com.