Album Reviews

DD/MM/YYYY – Black Square

(Invada) UK release date: 27 September 2010

Black Square might just be the most physically demanding record of2010. That information alone pretty much defines the expected audience thismusic has been made for. This is math rock at its most mathy, made up ofskittering drum patterns, computer-mulched guitars and rapidlyswinging BPMs.

Like a hi-fi Smell-scene bruiser, DD/MM/YYYY approachtheir music with ferocity. Things scarcely slowdown, and when they do its only to be rudely awakened by areinvigorated cacophony of amp-busting attack. They’re the band thatpummels at the universal sensory, whether it be their lobotomizing music ortheir brain-crashing cover art, DD/MM/YYYY want to make musiclistening an active experience.

Black Square does at least do the favour of tying itself together ina meaningful way. The songs here trail into the sort of trajectory a lotof noisy rock-scientists forget. No Life assaults and recedes underthe power of Tomas Del Baso’s ultra-precise vocals before gettingclipped mid-guitar shriek into the sleepy guitar-twinkling (andstrangely quoted) ballad “They”. That leads into the ocular 16-bitsynth of Infinity Skull Cube which is then followed by the one minute,treble-laced ambient My Glasses. Each of these songs have a specificplace and being in the context of a record; they occupy moods,determine pace and manage ebb and flow. This isn’t simply 12 jams laiddown on vinyl.

Black Square is at its most antagonistic when it removes Baso’svoice from the tracks. The tracks following My Glasses, Birdtown andSirius are angular, robotic, computer-generated slabs of hyperactivemath rock, which is capped by the schizophrenic noise freak-outLismer. It’s fair to say the record can get a little overwhelming attimes. Brain bending polyrhythmic experiments are enjoyable on amental level, but it can be a little hard on the ears – especiallywhen the weirdness isn’t especially original. The anti-melodicstreak on Black Square isn’t anything all that special, and reallydoesn’t elevate the record to any plateau of substance.

They’re a bit of a one trick pony really. DD/MM/YYYY are all verytalented musicians but their sound, as much as they try to deviatefrom it through tempo changes and texture work, sounds more or lessthe same throughout. Things get quiet, then they get loud, then theyget quiet again, then they get loud again; it’s the Pixies formulatranslated to nerdy post-hardcore.

By the time the closer DigitalHaircut starts playing there’s no surprise left, and therattling drums and stringent synthesizer transforms into a punchyagro-breakdown. All the shock and awe wears off by the album’s middle,and they seem out of places to go by the two-thirds mark. Yet BlackSquare is not an awful effort, it just needed more time in the oven.Maybe with a little more development, DD/MM/YYYY can blow mindssometime soon.

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