In an interview with Pitchfork earlier this year (garnered from their appearance at Todd Patrick’s famed Chinese buffet show), Bjorn Copeland noted that “Black Dice is kind of a line in the sand for some people. Either they’re really psyched on it or they’re really opposed to it.” The same could probably be said of the solo work of Bjorn’s brother Eric Copeland. While it certainly flies under the radar more often than the proper work of the Brooklyn-based noise provocateurs, Eric Copeland’s solo work has been no less challenging or interesting.
The sample-based tone of Copeland’s previous solo efforts,Waco Taco Combo, Alien In A Garbage Dump and Hermaphrodite, could seem on a surface level vastly similar to his work with Black Dice, but there are some key differences. Though his approach is somewhat similar, melding left field instrumental samples into the same kind of bizarre driving noise that Black Dice is so beloved for, the tone seems a lot less intentionally confrontational than his work with that group ever did. Copeland’s solo work is infused with a whimsical attachment to the beats he chooses. That focus is apparent in the bipolar “Double Reverse Psychology,” which leads off his newest record. In the first three minutes of this track Copeland plows his way through three very distinct sections, to the extent that each of these sections feels like its own whole song, before landing on a warped voice repeating the title of the record. It’s a bit all over the place, and the song continues in this fashion for the rest of its 8 minute duration. It’s no easier of a listen than any Black Dice record, at least in terms of processing the overstimulating sonics of the record, but what makes this record special, even in comparison to Copeland’s earlier solo work, is how much fun it sounds like he’s having.
That much is evidenced further in “Tarzan and The Dizzy Devils.” Starting as perhaps the most laid-back instrumental a Black Dice member has put forth since Beaches and Canyons, the track unfolds over its near seven minute length to become a more driving piece typical of the Copeland canon. Though no one would ever accuse any of Copeland’s work of being short on innovation, it sounds like he’s particularly pushing himself into new fields. While “Tarzan” is entirely still filtered through the bizarre filter of the Copeland worldview, we’re presented with what becomes a near club ready dance track. It’s an unexpected turn late on the album, after what was a predictably out there 23 minutes, Copeland settles, at least for a few minutes, into the most danceable groove of his career. Unexpected, sure, but this playful little turn is certainly welcomed from a man who generally makes music that leaves your ear little to grab onto.
Therein lies the beauty of this record. It’s still the same uncompromising aesthetic of Black Dice, but the grooves that Copeland locks into give you a little bit to hang onto. They’re not quite catchy, not quite infectious, but they’re hooky enough to get your head nodding. If you’re not one of the people who gets their kicks thrashing about to the insanity that Black Dice is so well known for, you still might find something of substance in Limbo