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Trapdoor F*cking Exit

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Album Review

A slightly confused discography entry for this one, at least partially recorded live, as there's the original Trapdoor F*****g Exit cassette on Precious Metal, the separate Helen Said This LP on Siltbreeze, and the follow-up Siltbreeze CD containing both albums under the name of the original. Said CD version is the one to search out, given that it does have everything; while arguing for a definitive Dead C album is almost as impossible a task as selecting one by, say, Muslimgauze, this disc is a high candidate. With guest help on a number of tracks from guitarist Chris Heazlewood, the trio does what it does best once again, exploring the combination of rough avant-garde sonics with sometimes surprising accessibility. Morley assumes vocal duties throughout, his spoken/sung/slightly declaimed vocals often astonishingly gripping, given an interesting clarity — check out "Hell Is Now Love," as the lyrics slice through the fuzzed chaos, as just one example. Things are definitely murky on Trapdoor, and while that's the case with just about any Dead C release one could name, there's something even more mixed down and subliminal here: things that sound like — but might not be — random TV interview snippets on the first version of "Bury," or, throughout the CD, the general aura of sonics that sound like radio signals distorted and trampled through the mud. The second take on "Bury," subtitled "Refutatio Omnium Haeresium" (which alone pretty well shows that Bruce Russell is part of the band), is the disc's understandable centerpiece. Fifteen minutes long, with slowed/distorted vocals everywhere and a wonderful sense of looming, mysterious contemplation in the flow of dank guitar noise up and down over Robbie Yeats' distant drumming, it's a fantastic effort. An interesting coda concludes the disc — acoustic versions (!) of three tunes, "Power," "Bone," and "Mighty."


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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Trapdoor F*cking Exit, The Dead C
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