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Black Dice are soldiers, steadfast and indefatigable.

While many of their contemporaries – Animal Collective and Gang Gang Dance spring to mind – have increasingly courted the favour of the masses, Black Dice have stayed true, doggedly true, to their uniquely deranged muse. After a spell on DFA that yielded the spotless trilogy of Beaches & Canyons (2002), Creature Comforts (2004) and Broken Ear Record (2005), 2009 saw them decamp to Paw Tracks to issue a stomach-churning collection of self-styled “roadhouse boogie”, Repo; the live shows in support of that record were the best of their career. Their latest album, out now on Domino-affiliated Ribbon Music, is aptly titled Mr. Impossible, and finds them as uncompromised and fitfully exhilarating as ever.

We asked Black Dice co-founder Eric Copeland (pictured above, centre, with Aaron Warren and Björn Copeland) to pick, and tell us about, five records that have significantly impacted on the band and its creative stance. From “scumbag rock” and Californian ska-punk to pulsating proto-darkwave, it’s quite a selection.

 

OPERATION IVY
ENERGY
(LOOKOUT! RECORDS, 1989)

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Eric Copeland: “I lived in Colorado when I was in high school and didn’t have much access to shows or new records beyond what was on MTV. So I read a lot of zines and mail ordered records. I read a lot about this record, so ordered it the week it came out. The raw, youthful spirit and DIY approach to this masterpiece formed the model for every record I have ever made. And the jams are top-notch, really good tunes, with lyrics perfectly encapsulating the NorCal punk scene in the late 80s.”

STEEL POLE BATH TUB
TULIP
(TUPELO RECORDING COMPANY, 1990)

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EC: “These guys made some of the heaviest records in the early 90s. Fuzzy bass, screeching boogie guitar lines, sample-based soundscapes, and lyrics straight outta a thrift store paperback. I studied this record like a rock ‘n roll handbook along with their others, and this jam still holds up for me as a classic of American underground scumbag rock.”

THE VSS
NERVOUS CIRCUITS
(HONEY BEAR RECORDS, 1997)

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EC: “These guys are friends of mine and this band was a contemporary of my first band T Tauri when we were back in Colorardo. This record is super ahead of its time, anticipating darkwave and sorta the new wave revival in indie music by nearly 10 years. Plus the jams are super tight and heavy, and the editing of the record makes it flow like a rocky mountain stream. This was sorta the first record made by people I knew that I thought sounded really like a real record. It still sounds amazing to me.”

UNWOUND
FAKE TRAIN
(KILL ROCK STARS, 1993)

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EC: “I listened to this record every day the year it came out, and for quite a few years to come. This band was the very model of success to me, making records every year, touring, playing DIY shows, living the independent dream to the max. The music on here is much more angular and dissonant than I remember  it being, but it’s basically the meeting of west coast underground rock and the jazzy ideas of dudes like Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman, at least to my ears today.”

HAMMERHEAD
ETHEREAL KILLER
(AMPHETAMINE REPTILE, 1992)

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EC: “This was another highly influential record for me. It’s a super-technical and intense peek into the protestant work ethic of 90s Midwest underground rock ‘n roll. The dudes sound like they laboured over these melters for years before unleashing ’em on the world. I saw them in Denver rock the fuck out to a room with maybe 10 people in it. I remember that show often not only because it was so good, but also because I find myself in that position so often on tour, and have to summon the strength of these dudes to get through the show.”

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