Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Broken Ear Record

I wish had been at the initial listening session for the Astralwerks team charged with marketing the new Black Dice album. On paper, you think you’ve got something exciting here. You’re licensing this from a hip label, DFA, with underground credibility as tastemakers that is beginning to bubble over into mainstream recognition. While you don’t have the rights to the label’s hottest act, LCD Soundsystem, you’ve still folks like PlayLouder drooling over everything the label touches, and The Juan Maclean album that was your last project wasn’t an easy record but it’s a quality release with a couple of potential singles that are sure to drill their way into listeners heads. Then you sit in a room and someone starts Black Dice’s “Broken Ear Record.“ It starts out a little inaccessible. Nothing wrong with that, it’s art and sometimes you’ve got to work a bit to reap the rewards. Besides, you’re only one track in. Time passes and a glance at the clock reveals you’ve been sitting here for half an hour and you start to get a little queasy because you still haven’t found an angle or a even a song that sounds as if it’s worthy of a second listen. You’re down to the last two tracks and the best must still to come. Is that the sound of bicycles mixed with honking geese? Then the album comes to a close with a track that is full of treated barking samples. A dog of an album? To say the least. In the words of PlayLouder, "You have to be in a very certain state of ear and mind to really appreciate Black Dice." How do you handle the situation? Play up the “hottest label on the planet” DFA connection, talk up the band’s live shows and try like hell to pretend they are innovative. It’s not an easy task, but I applaud the label for giving it a try.
Speaking of Astralwerks, why is it that I can’t just type in http://astralwerks.com to bring up their site? I’ve been visiting their site for years and it’s the only place on the internet that I still have to type a www before the address. The label also need to stop dragging their heels and release more of their material on itunes. They must have a absolute fear of downloads replacing cd sales, because almost nothing on the label gets an immediate digital release and when it does it’s often with qualifiers about which tracks you can download without buying the whole album. It’s frustrating to say the least and all the much more when I can’t find some physical releases locally when their out (admittedly that might have something to do with my local Tower records being flaky). Keep in mind I only hate because I love.

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