Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Dictaphone-s/t (Totally Wired, 2013)

Quote-un-quote-noise-rock bands are a dime a dozen these days. Most of them drop forgettable records on forgettable labels, before sliding back into the scuzz pit of hipster trends and idiot fads that bequeathed us such luminaries of dogshit culture as The Killers.

Not so the Dictaphone, hailing from St. Martin's home town. First-gen No Wavers' avant garde pretensions aside, the fundamental intent of this sort of music is to annoy the listener, preferably in the most obvious and thus even more irritating way possible. The Dictaphone are past masters of this sort of nuanced-'cause-it's-not annoyance, and they don't let us down on their new(ish) LP. Everything I liked, and which you probably hated, about their previous essays in the obscene, is present here. Maybe the boys spent the past year huffing the ashes from St. Martin's reliquary, or they just found better recording equipment; either way, their sound is honed down into a precision-guided missile of pure, snide snark on this LP.

"About Blank" could be a lounge tune as written by Klaus Kinski: it offers the lilting repetition of lounge music, with a numbingly snide blandness I could only see the famous Hungarian dishing out. Nuthin' but a 4'4 time metronome, deadpan robot talk-singing, and the occasional blare of a synthesizer somewhere in the neon haze. There's a bit more life to "The Recording," but not much more. Really the best track here is number 3, "Verkehr." In my review of these guys' first LP, Let's Not, I described one song as ripping off the drumbeat from "All Tomorrow's Parties" while leaving the rest to the ages. Either these guys read the review and loved my comparison, or their speed habit coincides organically with a love of Lou Reed pop blueprints: "Verkehr" hijacks the bass vamp from "Rock & Roll" to weave it into a stand-alone piece of cosmic krautrock. Gradually this bass riff builds into a piece of coruscating majesty replete with animal-noise sound effects. "Hardness of Nuns" is the next highlight. Ditching the sophisto-70s references of "Verkehr," this is a bit of knuckle-dragging moron music almost as goofy as the Gorilla Biscuits LPs gathering mold in my record collection. This song sounds like if you spent all day reading 'ole Martin Heidegger then got punched in the face: you're still smart but in a really fucking stupid sorta way.*

Blahblahblah, if there's a point to this review it's that The Dictaphone is by far the best band making monotonous music these days.**

But don't trust my word for it, dear readers, FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF! Then you can buy the real deal from Vienna's Totally Wired, once you bow down and acknowledge the Dictaphone's brilliance. 

*Really, it's your fucking fault for reading that hippy dipshit's ontology mumbo-jumbo, anyway!
**Yes, that's a genre. If you don't believe me, ask my long-suffering friend who used to work at the record store with me. And no, I'm not telling you his name. Or why he would be an expert on monotonous music. He just is.

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