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The Dead C
The Twelfth Spectacle Patrick Smith , August 14th, 2014 15:28

The Dead C seem to have an innate, nay voodoo-esque, ability to fashion sumptuous rhythms from the most disparate and divergent of sonic sources. Over the last 15 years, the New Zealand trio – Bruce Russell, Michael Morley and Robbie Yeats – have expunged any trace of pre-determined song structures from both their live performances and album recordings. The Twelfth Spectacle, released this month by Grapefruit records (started in 2010 by Ba Da Bing's Ben Goldberg), is perhaps the logical conclusion to this relatively nascent structural rejection. The quadruple release collects live performances from 2002 to 2013: 'Arena', recorded at La Dynamo Pantin, Paris and Les Ateliers Claus, Brussels, April 2013; 'Permanent LSD', recorded at Luminaire, London, December 2006; 'This Century Sucks', recorded at The Smell, Los Angeles, March 2002, and 'Year Of The Rat', recorded at The Swap Meet, New York, October 2008.

Yeats' drumming takes centre stage on both sides of 'Arena' – driving forward and pulling back the euphonious sonic progression in equal measure – whilst Russell and Morley's deconstructive guitar work remains a wondrously hazey mix of feedback and staccato jabs. Morley interjects occasionally with some unintelligibly fuzzed out vocals, working principally as just another excellent instrumental layer to the soothing din. Some sustained circuit bending introduces the first side of Permanent LSD; supplemented by some subtle Krautish beats from Yeats. The static build up almost ascends to Harsh Noise Wall territory, before Russell and Morley introduce some wonderfully pared-down Shanker-esque guitar work. Yeats takes a back seat on the second side of 'LSD', a doom-heavy static attack that feels like a blown out Henry Flynt number.

The Twelfth Spectacle is perhaps a diptych of sorts. Where the first three recordings (across the first two records) aim at the construction of blossoming soundscapes, the final two explore the deconstructive "nuts and bolts" of the Dunedinites' sound. 'This Century Sucks' sits as closely to the aesthetics of power electronics as anything in The Dead C ouvre; more arrhythmic than the other recordings and built perhaps primarily around an appreciation of blistering feedback. On side two, Yeats' drums are tuned extremely low, a thundering pummel undercutting Russell and Morley's squalling soundscape. Morley's vocals make a rare reappearance on 'Year Of The Rat' side one. Significantly marked out in the mix, he repeatedly croons the phrase "you realise, you realise." There's an almost melancholic tone to this final record; the rhythm and guitars are comparatively tentative and ruminating when set against what has come before.

Then it's over. After almost three hours of pure sonic ecstasy, the silence is deafening.

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