AMN Reviews: The Dead C – Rare Ravers (2019; Ba Da Bing Records)

Aotearoa’s greying heartthrobs, the Dead C, blast us off into the end times (aka 2019) with their latest long-playing petroleum slab, Rare Ravers, courtesy of Ba Da Bing.

The A-side grooves lead in to “Staver,” a 20-minute plunge into the depths of Dante’s rings o’ hell. Fear not, feeble mortal, Michael Morley, Robbie Yeats, and [Dr.] Bruce Russell ditch the edifying Italian humdrum and instead crank out the sonic panacea one so badly craves in this blustery modern epoch. The trio incant a spellbinding and dizzying mélange, that is sure to send you swiftly whirring into phaser-laden no-blues bliss. Just as the track starts to lull around the 18-minute mark,  there is a deee-licious metallic scrape, sure to send you into fits. This listener is unsure if it is our Kiwi protagonists dragging an iron-framed bookshelf across the shop floor or if one is hearing a bit of cymbal manipulation courtesy of Robbie Yeats. If it is the latter, this is one of the few (if only) instances of Yeats employing this particular extended technique with the Dead C – a refreshing piece of sonic craftsmanship, that it is indeed one of the highlights of the A-side. In truly antagonistic fashion, “Staver” does not ride off into the sunset, leaving you and your pop sensibilities with a snug and hearty sense of resolution, instead it abruptly ends, leaving you in the company of your stylus’ incessant picking at the run out groove.

The B-side opens with “Waver,” a two-minute piece that falls somewhere between kosmische and something that might appear on a meandering private-press country release. This brief penultimate tune – which wouldn’t be out of place on any of the Dead C’s more recent output –ends before its starts, fading surreptitiously into the album’s final track (admittedly, this listener listened to the B-side three times and it wasn’t until hearing the digital version of the release, with its clearly demarcated tracks, that it became apparent there were distinct cuts on the B-side of the record).

The album wraps up with “Laver” (an obvious theme here), another extended free noise canter which starts in trademark Dead C fashion: the playing is vacant, hypnotizing, and slyly non-committal. At approximately a quarter of the way through the piece, the trio’s sun-bleached sauntering takes a wild shift and is vaporized by an atomic blast of heavily-saturated distortion that crumbles out of the speakers. From the wreckage, the group rebuild in a similar mold, yet the playing possesses an equal degree of both trepidation and tenacity. Despite employing ye olde blunt cut to the end of the A-side, the group’s decision to again employ this technique at the terminus of Rare Ravers’  B-side remains jarring and unexpected.

This isn’t so much the soundtrack to the end times as it is the very blueprint. Fans of the Dead C, Siltbreeze devotees, doomsday prophets, and owners of the Faust back catalog are sure to find Rare Ravers a treat. Everyone else… well, you can wait for the twin suns to scorch your shadow into the pavement.

– J. Sebastien Ericsson Saheb