Black Dice | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Though Black Dice have never been the type of group to rip off your head and piss down your throat, a few years ago they might've scratched your face or busted your lip. In true Providence art-rock fashion, they'd turn the knobs on their amps all the way to the right and have at their instruments, unleashing ear-bloodying squeals and blasts of bowel-rumbling thunder while Eric Copeland shrieked like a soprano in a hardcore band. In real life, of course, fury doesn't always equal chaos; sometimes it feels calm and purposeful, and that's the moment captured on Beaches and Canyons (DFA). Every track starts off unapologetically and unironically New Agey: delicate wind chimes, humpback whale groans, crashing waves, Hawkwind-like space-travel soundscapes, tribal drumming. But all these "peaceful" sounds are piled on in a domineering, hostile manner till the songs become tantric blizzards of pure adrenaline. The biggest difference between this and Black Dice's other recordings isn't the expanded palette of noise. The band has stopped consistently firing off grand finales and learned to build to a zenith--chain saw revving eventually explodes over synthesized Shangri-la sparkles and twitters, or a man's creepy voice moans over what could be little girls clapping to "Miss Mary Mack." Beaches and Canyons seems to explore the connection between the birth canal and the white light of death--what initially sounds like a newborn still choked with mucus and crying for the first time soon turns into the tortured screams of a man being murdered. Which is inspiring if you're into virgin sacrifices, ritualistic goat slaughters, or even just watching leaves fall off trees. Saturday, November 16, 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408.

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