Black Dice w/Animal Collective, Climax Golden Twins
Sun Aug 22, Neumo's, 9 pm, $12.

In the bogus history of music-biz hype known as tagging THE BUZZ BAND, none has been weirder than Black Dice. For a minute in 2002, these Brooklynites were scoring spreads in glossy mags more concerned with chic clothes and Vincent Gallo's latest outrage than abstract-expressionist noisicians. Rolling Stone and the New York Times heaped praise on them. Black Dice even played some 500-plus-capacity venues while touring behind the astonishing Beaches & Canyons. For a brief moment, I thought my favorite music--that which is seemingly crafted on a diet of absinthe, psilocybin, and LSD--was going to blow up. Alas, Black Dice's brand of oracular psychedelia remains underground, though they may be just one Thurston Moore name-drop away from the big time.

Black Dice's three members--Aaron Warren, Eric Copeland, and Bjorn Copeland--make extremely bizarre music that loosens your grip on sanity with deceptive intensity (think an American Boredoms with deeper musique concréte influences). With Beaches & Canyons and the new Creature Comforts (both on DFA), Black Dice have bestowed some of our era's most gloriously mind-altering recordings. Their live shows are disorienting displays of scrupulously FX'd feedback and beautiful/horrifying animal and bird noises.

The band emerged from Providence, Rhode Island's free-rock scene in the late '90s. Their early releases reflect a confrontational abrasiveness akin to Arab on Radar and Lightning Bolt; for proof, see 2001's Cold Hands, whose nihilistic noise spray requires a hazmat suit to endure. Subsequent releases reveal a radical creative shift. Black Dice have severed the umbilical cord of linear song structure and literal meaning.

Warren, whom Black Dice enlisted in 1999 after the members moved to New York, says, "When I joined, the band was like an '80s-influenced thrash band that sounded like a cross between Black Flag and the Boredoms, but really dirty. I had trouble with the songs because they were so short and fast. We played a lot of shows in this vein, but discovered we liked jamming on the noise segues between the songs more than the songs themselves. So we started changing it up. It was a long process."

Have Black Dice's strategies/intentions changed between the recording of Beaches & Canyons and Creature Comforts?

"When we started Creature Comforts, it was gonna be our studio jam: all composed in the studio," Warren says. But four weeks of work produced nothing useful. "So we went back to the rehearsal studio and wrote the album, and we were way more critical of all the ingredients than on Beaches & Canyons. B&C had more of an anything-goes vibe to it. CC is way more thought out, and we discarded tons of stuff till only the strong survived."

As their music is far from the usual club fare, Warren admits over half their shows have been for crowds who didn't understand or couldn't tolerate their music. "You just try to do your thing, and get stoked when you can," he says. "But I'd say it's gotten a lot better in the last couple years--less people walking out, talking during the quiet parts, etc."

Speaking of walking out, Dice's outstanding drummer, Hisham Bharoocha, left the band in April. Warren says his departure "has revitalized us, and kept us challenged. It's really made us reevaluate our roles in the group and forced us to break out of patterns we weren't aware we'd slipped into. It was a personal decision for us all, and not entirely musical. But I think it's working out well, and we are not looking to replace him at the moment."

The loss of a key member would seemingly cripple a group as interconnected as Black Dice. Onstage, all members' gear is linked, forming a true collectivist approach that has its ups and downs.

"We all have ins and outs of our instruments that allow us to play or process each other's sounds," Warren explains. "It can be amazing when it works, and makes it like we're playing one big instrument. When it doesn't work, it can be really frustrating."

Psychedelia long has been an underground phenomenon. Does Warren think Black Dice's kind of experimental music could ever cross over?

"Yes, I think the world is ready for some weird sounds. If you check out mainstream hiphop, it is all weird, abrasive sounds, totally repetitive. We live in a culture drawn to extremes, so, yeah, I think people could be open to our kind of music, given the right context."

segal@thestranger.com

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