Experimental rock outfit Black Dice has a tendency to make short work of listener expectations. Previous releases have run the gamut from brutal, abrasive noise to electronically enhanced tropical impressionism to mutant disco, but the Brooklyn trio still manages to surprise via striking exercises in electro-acoustic frenzy and the uncompromising DIY ethos of punk and no-wave. Creature Comforts is their fourth full-length album and second for ultra-hip New York label DFA. Its songs (or, more appropriately, "pieces") lurch with off-balanced swagger, as if their spare parts--a tangled mess of effects pedals, patch cords, laptop computers and fragmented guitar or percussion loops--might hold together only long enough to finish the songs, collapsing immediately afterward. In some cases, as on "Creature," the band seems barely in control of its own sounds; after a lengthy, cosmically tinged buildup, the piece unravels into a damaged symphony of robotic jungle beats and tribal drums. Sometimes, the soundscapes are reminiscent of recent outings from Japan's Boredoms, especially in their use of psychedelic sound effects and brawny rhythmic propulsion. The 15-minute "Skeleton," however, withholds any such obvious reference points in favor of gentle, minimalist guitar figures and extended forays into spacey ambience. Spiky and alluring.
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