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30 January 2012

Dead C - 'Dead Sea Perform Max Harris' (Ba Da Bing)

The heavens converged into a beautiful celestial jackoff a few years ago, when the Ba Da Bing label decided to start reissuing early Dead C work in 180g vinyl editions. This was truly a great decision by the label, and I've scooped them up enthusiastically; Dead C are one of those bands who I frequently return to, as they seem to get better with age. Chronologically we begin with Dead See Perform Max Harris, which is two side-long versions of the same song, sort of.  Both were originally released on cassette in '87 and these are (I believe) the earliest known Dead C recordings! What strikes me is how certain of an aesthetic they already have here, both in terms of songwriting, recording quality, and artwork.  'With help from Max Harris' on side 1 starts with a ringing riff and then proceeds to launch itself into it's own ass, thundering along with lots of detuned lower-string thud-thud-thud. Morley's vocals are the way we always love them - buried, atonal, and unintelligible. The overtones somehow coagulate even though this was probably recorded on a boombox, but there's the unmistakable presence of the room, which I guess was their practice space.  The song structure fades away and the jam rides out, but they never become a jam-band (a cohesion that i think remains through their entire career). It ends with a tape splice. On the flip, 'Beyond help from Max Harris' is a slightly more distant version; the plinking and chugging continues, but the song immediately starts to fragment, like Russell and Morley are pulling apart from each other, swerving around a centre, and occasionally converging in a beautiful harmony. Yeats backs off and lets the guitars create a downtune universe. Right when it's about to sputter out, he brings in the clicks and it starts to build up again (with some moments of tape flutters and hesitations). After years of listening to this band I still feel pinpricks of excitement on my arms sometimes; hearing this on vinyl re-inspires me because it's so boundary-smashing and expressive at the same time.

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