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7 February 2012

Dead C - 'DR503 / The Sun Stabbed EP' (Ba Da Bing)

It starts off with another version of 'Max Harris', a bit shorter this time, and then segues into 'Speed Kills', as close to perfect as the Dead C could ever be. Because there's something contradictory about the idea of perfection here - this ain't Dark Side of the Moon, with it's overly-worked, carefully-EQ'ed guitar tracks. Yet the Dead C aren't a bunch of tossed-off nonsense, despite what many listeners might think. "Deliberate" is maybe a better word; everything you hear is done for a reason. These slow moans from the south island of New Zealand are as radical and distinct of an aesthetic vision as anything by, say, Black Sabbath or Van Morrison. There's nods to their predecessors, the Velvet Underground of course the obvious one (though I make the mistake of associating any spoken vocalisations with 'The Murder Mystery' - see 'The Wheel' here). But the interplay and dialogue of the guitars and the rhythms is so masterful that I actually put the Dead C on a level with artists like Can or the Miles Davis band - a total mindmeld of communication. This is another lovely Ba Da Bing vinyl reissue, combining the DR503 album (which is different, partially, then the DR503C compact disc that will be shortly addressed on Glass Mastered Cinderblocks) and the great, great 'Sun Stabbed' EP (which spins here as a separate 45rpm 12"). 'Three Years' appears on both, but I'll take the epic version of it from the EP. It's significantly more spacious, allowing Morley's voice to soar as only it can. Also notable is 'Bad Politics', a sloppy, awkward punk rock song that foreshadows the vs. Sebadoh 7" (which will be shortly addressed in Denial Embriodery soon). In between we get booming, lush guitars - how did Ba Da Bing manage to master these so well?  It's hard to believe this could even be possible given the source materia. 'I Love This' could work as a masterpiece of minimalist guitar composition if presented as such, but here it's "mere" filler. DR503 ends with 'Polio', which sounds like a remnant from Morley's association with This Kind of Punishment. Maybe that's just the sound of the south island, but these gloomy chord progressions are iconic of some lost mysterious soundworld and still speak volumes to me today. And this release just absolutely slays; there's enough of a song basis that we haven't merged into the territory of The White House yet, let alone Tusk (though those are also great records); and there's little details like the use of the acoustic guitar in 'Polio' and 'Speed Kills' that situates this in an ambience that is absolutely magical and odd.

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