The quartet's second EP, Cold Hands, opens with the titular track, a minimalist bubbling of bell tones and music box crankings. The tune's fragile gentility merely sets the stage for the unsettling feedback squall to come. On the remaining three songs, drummer Hisham Bahroocha seeks out grooves and punishes them for hiding from him. Eric's brother Bjorn Copeland plays guitar like a feedback theremin -- "Look ma, no hands!" -- while Aaron Warren's bass tones battle for space like ants colonizing ears. Black Dice forgoes the orgasmic payoff in favor of detailing infinitesimal variations, achieving a clarity that belies its debt to psychedelic rock.
Whereas the Black Dice of old could be written off for not taking its music seriously, now there is real musicianship at work. Dropping the formalities of hardcore, the group strives for a voluminous drone mapped by musical mad scientists such as the Silver Apples, Faust, and Boredoms. While this more experimental terrain could be dismissed by the avant-garde and punk camps -- the former viewing the Dice as dilettantes, the latter writing off anything outside its slim scope of vision -- the band's sincerity burns hot and sharp.
On Cold Hands, Black Dice offers a model for the class clown to get serious and do real damage. The danger lies in taking its project too earnestly -- after all, unchecked sincerity made psychedelia boring and hardcore irrelevant. If Black Dice keeps its volume knobs up and its frowns down, the band may eventually puncture the wall between art and punk.