Artist: Black Time
Album: Double Negative
Label: In the Red
Review date: Jan. 7, 2009
Black Time’s Double Negative, seemingly made on a broken mixer in a cave, sets a new standard for artfully shitty recording quality. A particularly wonderful moment comes in the song “The Days Are Too Long and the Nights Are Too Short.” As the song progresses, the blown-out drums sound less and less like drums, culminating in what ought to be a final drum-roll that instead sounds like a horrible accident, disrupting the song’s other elements. Actually, those drums might be a drum machine, but the recording is too stunningly bad to be able to know for sure. It must take a carefully honed aesthetic sensibility to come up with such confusion, such delightful cacophony.
Indeed, there are many fine bits on Double Negative, the third full-length from this London-based trio (plus friends). The mingling of Hamburger Mary and Lemmy Caution’s English-accented sing-shouts on “Six Feet Below” works appealingly, in a way oddly reminiscent of Huggy Bear. A few of the dirge-y screech-ups (“Scary People,” “Problems”) attain a surprising level of creepiness. The reverby U.K. D.I.Y.-style girl-and-organ-heavy slower jam “I’m Gonna Haunt You When I’m Gone” is a whistle waiting to happen.
Generally, though, one gets the sense that Black Time has good taste in raw three-chord music, and that their own work carefully sums up, without acceding, their influences. The nicknames, the sassy ‘60s-style album cover, the lyrics about skeletons and hauntings, the spoken-word social critique “A Boring Day for the Boredom Boys,” will all appeal to people who like the same bands as Black Time. Those fans – of the Country Teasers or the Gories or In the Red labelmates Black Lips, whose songwriting ability far surpasses Black Times’ – will probably appreciate this album. Black Time seem glad to alter just enough elements of the garage-punk formula so their songs are enjoyably familiar, rather than simply by-the-numbers.
By Talya Cooper