Jan 22, 2012

The Dead C - Harsh 70s Reality (1992)


1. Driver U.F.O. 22:23
2. Sky 3:38
3. Love 11:51
4. Suffer Bomb Damage 3:40
5. Sea Is Violet 7:57
6. Constellation 6:43
7. Baseheart 6:53
8. Hope 9:23

The Dead C are a noise rock band from New Zealand who have been releasing albums since 1987. They tend to be very well regarded by critics and musicians alike for their focus on improvisation and their lo-fi sensibilities which leads some to call them free rock instead of just noise rock. Harsh 70s Reality is often considered their best album.

Love embodies the album's spirit of ambivalence- hazy indifference and latent violence. Hope is suitably the darkest track and the best way to finish the album- strummed detuned guitars and murmured vocals set the scene before frustration and violence emerge only to be drowned out by the sound of people talking. Even the 22 minute Driver UFO has its place- initially seeming like a way to weed out casual listeners, it becomes clear after a few listens that the band are masters at free-form noise jams.

There's a consistent atmosphere over the duration of the album leading some to declare it A rock opera for a post-nuclear war society which seems insincere or hyperbolic but it was only when I took the album as a whole and recongised its frustration, violence and apathy that it became a coherent story, which, yeah, is desolate and sometimes incredibly sad.

Harsh 70s Reality took something like three years to fully grow on me and I recommend those who don't completely love it persevere until it clicks.

A+

192 1/2

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