Black Dice / Et Sans La Salla Rossa, Montreal QC - September 10, 2005

On the strength of their label, DFA, Brooklyn's Black Dice have in the past four years ascended to levels of notoriety and exposure attained by very few noise bands. The trio makes lo-fi, dark ambience out of homemade electronics and cheap instrumentation; in other words, it's the quintessential imagining of what an overpriced, rodent-infested Brooklyn apartment would sound like if it could sing. So curious fans filed into the Salla Rossa for the Saturday night gig, which preceded their new album, Cone Toaster, wondering what the new material would sound like. Local five-piece Et Sans took the stage first, and for half an hour cooked up a swooning balladry of psychedelic ambience that left much of the audience mesmerised. Members have normally hung back in the long shadows of their other projects - Godspeed! and Fly Pan Am - so it was all the more impressive to see them break away into something quite unlike those bands and their past two albums. If this is what the new Et Sans sounds like, they're onto something well worth pursuing. It's hard to say the same of the headliners. Black Dice hit the stage without a word and straightaway began pummelling high-pitch, indecipherable frequencies out of their one guitar and three effects boxes, fusing it all with a tribal, at times, electro beat underneath. And they kept this up for most of the show, getting only louder and louder. Those who were at first into the audacity of what they thought was an intro soon began to quietly file out when they realised it wasn't going to end. And if there ever was a potentially appreciative crowd for this kind of attack, this was going to be the one, as most of these people had embraced Japanese noise king Merzbow only two nights before. No, this was noise without nuance. Back to the rehearsal room.