he O.T. of the Good Book (for all the heathens in the house that’s the Bible’s Old Testament) briefly mentions a sect of human-demon hybrids called the Nephilim. According to classical Judaic explanations, the story goes that fallen angles came to earth and mated with the daughters of men, conceiving the Nephilim, who were gigantic Titan figures that inhabited the land of Canaan.
Demons and women— whom most non-The Man Show watchers would put on opposite ends of the good vs. evil spectrum—are, indeed, an unexpected pairing. Less dramatically, members of both Animal Collective and Black Dice have utilized this paradoxical pairing principle, becoming one in Terrestrial Tones. Leaving behind the playful psychedelia and the dissonant, musical massacre respectively definitive of their given bands, Dave Portner of Animal Collective and Black Dice’s Eric Copeland, cleave to each other in Terrestrial Tones, establishing a unity via their mutual love for experimental electronic music. In Blasted, the duo screw around with synthetic microtones, conceiving their own divisive, Niphilimesque musical baby.
By likening this Animal Collective-Black Dice collaboration to the myth—or, God forbid, the truth—of the Nephilim, I run the risk of being mistaken as believing one of these two bands dilutes the beauty of the other. But let us not forget that the darker half of the supernatural world does, indeed, have a lot to offer: they make great horror film subject matter, are usually portrayed as having chiseled, muscular frames and, to some, are even deemed worthy of worship. Sure, their bastardized, ½ human offspring wasn’t the most admirable of creatures, and Goliath, a Nephilim himself, was killed by a slingshot-bearing prepubescent, but, according to the Bible, the Nephilim did form a powerful nation. Likewise, both Portner and Copeland’s contributions merit the Niphilim analogy: they’re two different entities that combine to create an unconventional, yet successful, product.
Blasting, specifically, goes further into experimental territory than Animal Collective’s occasional use of Gregorian modes and Black Dice’s massively cluttered rhythmic section, opting to completely disregard monorhythms and tonality. Electronic figures swim as individuals, building upon each other’s drones, clicks, and pulses. The various sound manipulations are given a smooth, rounded treatment, but lack the clinical precision associated with most IDM. This is due to the fact that many of the tracks here sound as if they used live instrumentation and others are swathed in a warm, aquatic reverb. Portner and Copeland establish a careful equilibrium in mixing, controlling an enchanting and chaotic aura with the various cycling and fragmented electronic snapshots.
Though the album is characterized by its wonderfully incongruent, sprawling disjoint, each track is undeniably thought-out, supplying a specific timbre and theme. Dark, creepy undertones swell within its electronic mixes and specifically highlight the 4th untitled track (track 8). The song begins with lo-fi clanking and, what sounds like, a reversed, MIDI controlled kazoo gradually changing rhythms as sub-bass chugging sneaks into the backdrop. The extraterrestrial, sonar chugging builds a significant amount of intensity over its length, before moving to the album’s next track, wherein the tension builds to a nearly fever pitch.
While it lacks prototypical crescendos, high-octave piano melodies, or savage violin quarter notes, the themes from Blasted would make an ideal choice for the next artsy, three star, quasi-experimental horror film. Terrestrial Tones captures that sense of foreboding, provoking the natural biases of our physiology that is naturally trained to grow fearful at the presence of out-of-place unworldly noises, minor keys and dissonant reverberations. Blasted is truly a monster of an album.
Reviewed by: Kyle McConaghy
Reviewed on: 2004-12-13