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05/20/2004: "herbal essences."

Good grief, the new Black Dice album Creature Comforts is the stoned-est thing I've ever heard them do. I mean I really like it, but some stretches of it really are only tolerable to the weed-inclined. It all reminds me of the talk surrounding a new exhibit called "Drunk vs. Stoned" currently running at some Chelsea gallery. In this piece (from Voice issue #0420 har har), art critic Jerry Saltz points out the obvious: "The stoned sensibility is easily fixated, fascinated, or surprised. Stoned meanders, fills in space with small or repeating marks and gestures, or gets super-focused. It loves spirals, circles, and patterns, bright colors and endlessly embellished areas. It's located more in the fingers than the arm; the eyes, not the gut. While it's physically tingly, it's also very out-of-body." Duuude! I challenge anyone to write a review of this album that doesn't include the word "burbling," because, well, this album burbles. A lot. It also has those kinda Geogaddi-esque moments where things go all nutty with the pitchshifter and you start to wonder if there's something wrong with the stereo. But where bands like Boards of Canada move songs forward in a somewhat linear fashion, Black Dice keeps circling around and around the same little swirls, coming back to micro-themes and touching them up endlessly with little dabs of color. I don't really know why I'm comparing the two bands because they have almost nothing in common, but they both do have that childlike wonder/paranoia thing going on. If you've ever hung out with someone who's completely baked, both the childlike thing and the paranoia thing make sense. A better point of comparison might be Animal Collective, or kindred spirits Boredoms (the EYE remix of Black Dice's 'Endless Happiness' really is the best thing ever) but I recall an interview in the Wire where Yoshimi claimed that none of the Boredoms did drugs. I can almost believe her, but Black Dice really does reek of fine, fine herb, so much so that you can almost smell its heady fragrance emanating from the CD. Listening to this record is like going on a walk with a little kid who wants to stop every two minutes. To some people this kind of constant oh-wow-ness can be fascinating, but I can see why others would find it utterly tiresome.

Replies: 4 Comments

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I also wrote a feature story that examines the insane popularity of Spider-Man in India for the Wall Street Journal Asian edition -- you need to register to read the piece (bah!), but I'll post the text here soon.

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