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.
Age, according to conventional wisdom, is supposed to bring some measure of contentment. Edges have been worn off, battles have been won (or forfeited), and the prickly dissatisfaction of youth has given way to a philosophical cultivation of stability. Real life seldom turns out that way, of course. But with age, our impulse to see everything as an all-or-nothing binary means real life’s messy mix of war and peace becomes, at least, embraceable.
The Dead C—Trouble (Ba Da Bing! Records)To those with ambitions of musical career-making, The Dead C’s trajectory plays out as a nightmare of rock ’n’ roll failure. Three decades of records released to a primarily-uncaring—or at least uncomprehending—public, sporadic touring and associations with a parade of underfunded, under-distributed imprints. Yet, for those who care, The Dead C—Michael Morley, Bruce Russell and Robbie Yeats—serve as patron saints of freeform rock, a band enamored more of amp hiss than melody and an improvisational powerhouse capable of producing uncannily transformative sound.