• black ice Myopia (CD, £10.25)

    label: hungry eye

    Following the demise of one of the Bay Area's most notorious bands of the last decade, the Phantom Limbs, two of their principal songwriters, Skot B and Stevenson Sedgewick, took to transforming their erstwhile studio outfit Black Ice into a fledgling live unit. While Black Ice's sound is decidedly difficult to pigeonhole, continuing to draw on studio and instrumental experimentation for their songs, a segment of the mainstream press might have dogged Black Ice's debut Terrible Birds with a dismissive goth tag. Nevertheless, Black Ice paid little attention and soldiered on, as others praised their morbid theatrics and their songs' defiantly bleak structure, with discerning commentators finding comparisons not only to their 80's deathrock forebears, but also to the noisier moments of anarcho-punk bands like Rudimentary Peni and Crass. Miss Kel's vocals came to be ranked with the banshee wails of Siouxsie Sioux and Lydia Lunch. Myopia, Black Ice's sophomore album, continues the renowned template of their first. The trademark icy guitars and staccato keyboards are still intact, held together by the heavy backbeat of Mr. Brown's tribal trash-can rhythms, like a post-punk Jackie Liebzeit (of Can). More of their experimental tracks found their way onto this album, recalling not only the damaged industrial soundscapes of Bay Area pioneers Factrix or early UK noiseniks Cabaret Voltaire, but also more recent co-conspirators like Phantom Limbs & Neptune.

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