After My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything and Loveless appeared in 1988 and 1991, respectively, significantly changing rock music's atmospheric pressure, I wondered what could possibly follow them. What could mess with rock's genetic structure with any more severity? Some 15 years later, bands like New York City trio Black Dice provided the answer with their massively distorted textures, radically disjunctive rhythms, and wildly hybridized mutations. Now that we're in the 21st century, do we really still want endless revisions of songwriting templates conceived 40-plus years ago? (Hmm, is that a resounding "yes" coming from the peanut gallery?)
So, seven albums into their career, Black Dice are not even close to representing rock's status quo. And even though Repo may be their most accessible full-length since 2002's still out-there Beaches and Canyons, it certainly isn't an easy work with which to cuddle up (one can hear why DFA let Black Dice go). "Nite Crème" lifts the lid on Repo with a lopsided gallop bearing weird martial elements in its "hup hup hup" vocal sample. It's the soundtrack for a shindig that scares the shit out of you. Similarly, first single "Glazin" emits a vaguely festive and tropical aura, but it's deranged, too—sort of what a Fatboy Slim B-side might sound like after massive ketamine intake. "Ultra Vomit Craze" is a steamrolling dance track somewhere between the Art of Noise's "Beat Box" and Atari Teenage Riot. "Earnings Plus Interest" features the most straightforwardly funky beat Black Dice have ever used (nicked from Andrea True Connection's "More More More"?), but it's festooned with disturbing gurgles, as if Stephen Hawking were croaking for help as he swirls down a whirlpool. Way to sabotage the party, guys.
Such perversity is ingrained in Black Dice's DNA. Their entire sound palette is a hallucinogenic playground on which bizarre ideas gallivant with mischievous disregard for straight-world conventions. Check out "Lazy TV" and "Ten Inches" and try to discern rhyme or reason in their strangulated synth striations, multiple pitch-fucked vocals, and crippled beat programming. They're grotesque yet utterly compelling. They sound like the goddamned 21st century. It took a while, but someone is finally making My Bloody Valentine sound like pre–Rubber Soul Beatles.