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Secret Earth

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Album Review

Both Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth are reportedly fans of this New Zealand noise trio, whose Secret Earth consists of two long and two very long tracks. "Mansions" (clocking in at seven minutes, it's one of the shorter entries) is loud, messy, and shambolic — the guitar sound is fat and splashy and chaotic, the vocals are distorted and laconic, and the whole thing sounds a bit like Dinosaur Jr. on Quaaludes. "Stations" features 16 minutes of even messier noise: piles and piles of feedback are layered on top of each other in a structure that is constantly on the verge of collapse, concealing tinny drums and what sounds like a very unhappy dog; the vocals, such as they are, are completely fuzzed up and almost completely buried. With "Plains" (nine and a half minutes) the band's sound is getting progressively more distant and distorted. Paradoxically, the lyrics are actually intelligible on this song, and it actually starts rocking out in a relatively conventional way at around the eight-minute mark. "Waves" brings things to a close with roiling clouds of guitar clangor and feedback; a few minutes into the track everything suddenly calms down, and then the intensity gradually builds up before plateauing and staying at that level for the remaining ten minutes. It's hard not to compare these guys to Lightning Bolt, who can make this kind of music sound like a matter of life or death.


Formed: 1986 in Dunedin, 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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Secret Earth, The Dead C
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