Recording information: Chicks Hotel, Port Chalmers (07/27/2013).
Following 2013's astounding Armed Courage, one of the best albums in the Dead C's four-decade-spanning history, the New Zealand noise-rock legends returned three years later with a sprawling double album called Trouble. Recorded in a single day during July of 2013, the album contains several lengthy improvisations, some of which don't seem to have a true beginning or ending, as if they've been arbitrarily excerpted from a marathon gig or brainstorm session. The album opens with oscillating feedback before launching into crashing, sputtering drums and sooty clouds of abrasive, scraping guitar fuzz. It sounds like a single mike in the center of the room is picking everything up, as all of the sonic elements emanate from different corners of the speakers. The trio continue playing in their standard broken, corroded fashion, sometimes settling into an uneasy rhythm with loudly slapping snare drums and barely discernible (but significant) guitar melodies. There are moments when it sounds like the drums are trying to work up a more driving rhythm, but then it just falls apart and gets bogged down in the muck again. It seems like when they do end up reaching something resembling a heavy stoner rock groove, they end up plunging harder into chaos afterwards. Faintly audible vocals occasionally snarl in the background, but they're just as blurry and detached as the rest of the instruments. As with everything the Dead C does, the album ignores all musical conventions and works according to the band's own logic. The group's ominous drones and bursts of whirring feedback are always well-placed and well-timed, and when they do speed up or get louder, it provides an effective rush. The Dead C have maintained the same lineup for 30 years, and essentially their sound hasn't changed much, but there's no reason why it should. They've always existed in their own space, and Trouble is yet another fine example of their fascinating art. ~ Paul Simpson
Pitchfork (Website) - "Sometimes corrosive, sometimes constructive, the band's output has remained as steady as it is volatile."