Black Dice, Animal Collective | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Black Dice, Animal Collective

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Black Dice drummer Hisham Bharoocha, who's since left the band, was the malfunctioning safety valve on the steam boiler: if a particular passage of corrosive abstraction grew too unruly, he was equally likely to ground it in a fixed beat or explode it with a wild spaz-out. But he's barely present on the new Creature Comforts (DFA), and the Brooklyn band actually plays it cooler without him. The old abrasive textures have been replaced by rich, dynamic, electronically enhanced ones that churn and mutate like bubbles of oil in an old psychedelic light show. The new sounds are remarkably imaginative--sometimes funny and sometimes frightening. But while electronic rhythms occasionally flail or stutter through the coagulated masses of noise and melody, ultimately there's nothing to tie those sounds together. Black Dice's regular tourmates Animal Collective, with them again here, have evolved in the opposite direction. The new Sung Tongs (Fat Cat) is mostly acoustic guitar and voice, and often the strummy din coalesces to reveal beautifully compact little pop tunes crammed with unexpected harmonies--the opener, "Leaf House," flies straight right out of the gate. The music still sounds appealingly homemade, but the noise that obfuscated the songs on previous recordings is now carefully arranged around incantatory, intuitive hooks. All of Animal Collective's work is made by different combinations of four members; this casual masterpiece was created by Avey Tare and Panda Bear, the two who'll perform here. Black Forest/Black Sea opens. $10. Thursday, August 19, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Isabel Asha Penzlien, Do Lee.

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