Release Date: Oct 17, 2011
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, American Underground
The Supreme Dicks so completely thrived off a sentiment of "if boxed in or defined, immediately leave" that the idea of an all-encompassing box set that covers their truly cryptic recording career is almost impossible to contemplate. But Breathing and Not Breathing provides exactly that, pulling together both of their formal albums, The Unexamined Life and The Emotional Plague, the odds-and-sods compilation Workingman's Dick, and their Italian-only EP This Is Not a Dick -- plus even more obscure moments -- into one convenient spot. If anything, their resistance to summary makes further sense in a new century; while acts like No-Neck Blues Band and practically every last part of the Tower Recordings family tree are only two similarly inclined agglomerations of across-the-map artistic impulses, the Supreme Dicks set a particular tone even earlier.
Even in a world overflowing with reissues, special editions, and collectors edition box sets, Supreme Dicks seems like an odd choice for a retrospective collection. For one, they only released one single in their recording history (a double B-side, no less). Their shifting lineup and instrumentation sometimes included both turntables and theremin, all under genre appellations of freak folk or noise rock.
Supreme Dicks’ Breathing and Not Breathing is one of those oddities which can be hard to pin down on paper. These are the complete, collected works of a relatively unknown band from Massachusetts that broke up, incidentally, more than a decade ago. For that reason, it is difficult to imagine who the audience is for this four-album set; of all the bands with material out there demanding to be brought back into print, one must wonder why Jagjaguwar chose to highlight the work of a band whose music could be charitably described as unlistenable.