BLACK DICE- SLEEPING GIANT

U.S. POP LIFE VOL. 12: TRIBUTE TO FORT THUNDER (CONTACT, 2001)

This, of all tracks, was the one that really made me come around to Black Dice. After becoming physically ill at one of their shows in 2000—they weren’t confrontational physically, but the seemingly shapeless noise they generated was punishing enough—I mostly wrote them off. (I now wish I could experience it all over again.)

Eventually I encountered “Sleeping Giant,” which finds them inching towards obliteration but also clinging to a snatch of guitar feedback that anchors the swirl of everything surrounding it. In retrospect, this is like a middle ground between “Big Drop” and the “Peace in the Valley” single and it still sounds illuminating.

Seeing them in 2002, I couldn’t believe how radically they had altered their approach to music; another set two years later at the Bowery Ballroom remains one of the best live sets I’ve ever witnessed, with the Hisham-less band poised before its audience like the Three Tenors. I’m essentially indifferent to their current sound, but I still think the run of Beaches and Canyons, Creature Comforts, and Broken Ear Record is hugely important and vital music.