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The Dead C

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Album Review

A rather uneven collection of early material from this seminal New Zealand noise rock trio, DR503C nevertheless compiles many near-impossible-to-find songs: four tracks from the band's debut Flying Nun LP, two from the cassette-only release DR503b, two from the Sun Stabbed EP, the entirety of the 15-minute Perform Max Harris cassette, and a live version of "Sun Stabbed." There is even one previously unreleased track to entice completists who already have the other songs elsewhere: the opener "Crazy I Know," which was recorded in January of 1987. All of the material presented here comes from the first year-and-a-half of the band's existence. Many characteristics that came to define the band later are seen here in embryonic form; the drones don't seem to build to anything much, and sometimes the band members sound like they're not really listening to each other play, the song just plodding along. But there are some highlights, including the almost poppy and darkly humorous "Bad Politics" and the harrowing two-chord "Speed Kills," which holds its own with the best of the band's later work. The previously unreleased song, it must be said, is nothing to get too excited about. It's a three-minute, very muddy boom box recording of acoustic guitars and chair cushion drumming with vocals all but buried in the tape hiss.


Formed: 1986 in New Zealand

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Forerunners of post-rock and the modern-day revival of space rock, the Dead C are an improvisational, hugely prolific noise rock trio indebted to Sonic Youth (whose Thurston Moore is an avowed fan), as well as Krautrock and psychedelia. Challenging and mostly instrumental, they have been a definite anomaly on the New Zealand scene, which was still known primarily for the jangly collegiate pop associated with the Flying Nun label when the band first emerged in the late ‘80s. Perhaps in part for that...
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DR503c, The Dead C
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