tanding next to their easiest comparisons—Boards of Canada, Air, Beck—Black Moth Super Rainbow look like m.f.ing steamrollers. Weird, ugly steamrollers. In masks. All the bands have things in common: grooves slacker than a stoner’s maw, hairy keyboards, measured grandeur, trippy signifiers (backwards shit; shit that sounded like it was recorded off the radio; weird envelope filter shit). But BoC were pastoral and Air were “urbane” (pap to sell sofas with); BMSR are neither. Cranked out in an undefined wood near Pittsburgh, Dandelion Gum has an oddly abrasive, suffocated, and heavy quality to it—a mix of switched-on hard rock, chintzy psych, disco, and grizzled folk. After watching bands struggle to anthropomorphize their gear for years, BMSR did the simplest thing possible: they started a psych band and sang through a vocoder and put some keyboards in the band and mashed the keyboards like berries.
Everything on the record sounds bacterial, forged by hand. Are “rocking” and “true grooving” privileges of sentient beings? I’m not sure. But we’re post-HAL, post-mensch machine, post-cyberpunk, and post-the dated dream of the future where computers sit rusted out on a hillside (BoC and Grandaddy milked this like an infant); we might even be past the point where we’re just embracing machine qua machine.
Where does that leave us? Somewhere near the opening chords of “Forever Heavy,” landing like they were turning the title into a vow, pulses that could completely rip a doper’s fading brain. Or the searing sequence of “Melt Me,” “Lollipopsichord,” and “They Live in the Meadow,” which would qualify for a dancefloor if it seemed like BMSR ever made it past the backyard, which seems inspiringly unlikely.
See, BMSR sound at tussle with their machines, which isn’t a qualitative statement—Broadcast is still ostensibly a band—but Dandelion Gum actually sounds cheap and busted and even a little nasty, qualities their more mannered pals only affect in the confines of what are probably really comfortable chairs in really nice studios with canned air to blow off each patch bay before attaining that perfect blistering sine wave.
The effect aligns them with sounds as disparate as Burial (who didn’t sequence his drum machines), Mordant Music (who let their keyboards sound as beaten and immediate as guitars) and Ghost Box artist Belbury Poly, whose queasy, half-kitsch synth miniatures have the same aesthetic resonance: hyper-modernity via a collage of past-dated versions of the future—Dandelion Gum sounds roughly like the posters for the movie adaptation of Godspell look.
I refuse to mince words: if you listened with your heart, the Game Boy remixes of last year’s Beck tracks sounded like a dying animal. In 1999, we hoisted our prophets pretty high, and it left a long way for them to fall. BMSR, carrying dumb names like Tobacco and Father Hummingbird, are not geniuses, and bless their hearts for that. Stumble out into Dandelion Gum and you’ll find something genius can’t afford: an unkempt, imprecise place to fall in your face.
Reviewed by: Mike Powell
Reviewed on: 2007-05-29