Black Dice formed during the spring of 1997 in Providence, RI as a loud, chaotic mix of early eighties-sounding thrash and harsh noise experimentation. At the time, Bjorn Copeland (guitar), Hisham Bharoocha (drums), and Sebastian Blanck (bass) were students at the Rhode Island School of Design while Eric Copeland (vocals) was finishing up high school in Maine.
Early shows seldom lasted more than 15 minutes and were characterized by violent performances where injuries were often sustained by band and audience alike. Live sets mixed structured songs with improvised sound manipulation and shows differed from night to night.
In the summer of 1998 the band relocated to NYC, where Eric was going to college. At an early New York performance, the band met current member Aaron Warren who had recently moved from Los Angeles to attend NYU. In the spring of 1999 Sebastian left the band and Aaron began playing.
It was around this time that the emphasis shifted from conventional song structures to more open-ended sonic investigations. Shows of this era maintained an equally physical presence through the use of high volume levels and an extreme range of frequencies, though injuries became less frequent. The music bore more resemblance to crude first generation industrial music or contemporary power electronics than straight noise or hardcore. Many of the changes in sound were related to the use of outdated electronics and unconventional instrumentation.
By Autumn 2001 live shows had grown in length to almost five or six times the length of earlier sets, with the occasional song reaching 45 minutes. The unorthodox instrumentation continued to evolve, and an emphasis on signal processing provided a broader range of sounds to work with. While volume and physical presence of sound remained crucial, melody and repetition became key elements that songs were composed upon. The shift in focus introduced a new gentle and tuneful quality to the intense, brash music.
Currently, the music retains elements of noise and proto-industrial experimentation, while organically suggesting minimal, ambient electronic and psychedelic ideas as well as those of tropicalia and dub. Black Dice is now the organised presentation of improvised sound, assembled into deliberate structures based on visual concepts.
The band has toured America five times so far, primarily DIY excursions booked by members of the band. Houses and warehouses have served as venues as often as clubs, though currently the band’s desire for high fidelity in sound demands a more significant PA system than such alternative spaces generally provide. However, placing the music in a context contrary to the average show remains an inspiration for unique performances.
Black Dice composed a special piece at the Fredrick Petzel gallery in NYC at the invitation of painter Richard Phillips for his ‘America’ exhibition in September 2001. For Peter Coffin’s 2002 ‘Perfect If On’ show at Andrew Kreps gallery, the band performed for over two hours in a greenhouse filled with a variety of plants and foliage. Black Dice toured Japan in early 2002, and later in the spring played at LA’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, curated by Sonic Youth. Other special engagements include Diedrich Diedrichsen’s Potential Of Negation festival in Cologne and Berlin, and the band have also played at a variety of festivals across Europe, most recently the All Tomorrow’s Parties (The Director’s Cut). By this point, the band has slimmed down to a three piece, with long-time collaborator Hisham working on other projects.
FatCat released ‘Beaches And Canyons’ to the UK and Europe in February 2002, four months after the initial release by DFA in North America. The ‘Miles Of Smiles’ EP followed in March 2004, and the ‘Creature Comforts’ LP was released in July ’04, and was applauded by the critics for its adventurous, thrilling and brave experimentation.
Black Dice later released the ‘Wastered’ EP, a split with Animal Collective on Paw Tracks, and their next album, ‘Broken Ear Record’, was released by EMI in early 2005, followed by the ‘Smiling Off’ release featuring remixes of the track.
In 2006 their release, ‘Load Blown’ was put out on Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label, and Eric Copeland released his debut solo album, ‘Hermaphrodite’ on the same label in 2008. Their fifth record, ‘Repo’ was then released on 2009 on Paw Tracks.