The Dead C. - Vain, Erudite and Stupid
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The Dead C.
Vain, Erudite and Stupid

The Dead C. are a three-piece band from New Zealand who have been kicking it around for nearly a couple decades now, releasing a slew of cassette's, LPs, and finally CDs on a variety of labels. Their style varies from sprawling, noisy lo-fi experimentations and dabbles in free noise and improv. The group counts big-names like Sonic Youth, Black Dice, and Comets On Fire as fans, and Vain, Erudite and Stupid is a 2CD collection of hand-picked tracks from the group to celebrate their 20th anniversary (which will be next year officially.

To be very honest, there's no real way around saying that The Dead C. are an acquired taste at best and a difficult listen at the very, very least. Muffled, fuzzy vocals occasionally fight their way through murky guitars and mashing drums while thick layers of grit seem to coat just about every single sound with some sort of ancient voodoo curse. The first disc of the collection features tracks like the grinding, seven-minute "Maggot," where slugded-out guitars swim through haze so thick that the only way vocals pop through are with little bursts of shrieks. "Helen Said This" is a little more engrossing as a double-squall of guitar noise sprays out over the top of a relentless, snare-popping beat before morphing into a shambling second half that actually parts the clouds towards the end and is downright pretty.

In places where the group actually takes a slightly more focused songwriting route, the actual recording quality of the release only adds to the grime. "Power" is a seven-minute dirge that features all the usual suspects (crazy noisy guitars and submerged rhythms behind sometimes strained vocals), but sounds like it was recorded on a cheap boombox. Interestingly enough, the group doesn't really change up their style (or production quality, for that matter) too much over the course of their long life-span. Even the pieces recorded in the new millennium sound like one-mic takes and don't really drift much from the massively noisy output from their earlier days. If you're a huge fan of lo-fi and free noise, this one might be up your alley, but I just don't really get it.

rating: 510
Aaron Coleman 2006-08-24 21:20:21