Stockholm duo Roll The Dice blur the lines between post-rock, space-rock. komische and any more labels you may wish to throw into the mix. What makes this band stand out however is the human, emotional aspect they bring to a cold, impersonal form of music. With the aid of strings and piano they bring an intimacy to create something rather special. Earlier in the year they released their third album, Until Silence…
‘Blood In Blood Out’ is where this journey into darkness begins, with looping electronics backed by a sibilant drone. Growing in volume a piano enters the fray, perfect for soundtracking a documentary on the wonder of the solar system. The bass throbs, pushing the song along like a heart pumping blood to the extremities. Right from the start it is clear that Roll The Dice are a class act.
‘Assembly’ sounds like The Terminator shaking off the mind forg’d manacles. The stately grace of the opener is replaced by a stronger, more intense sound. A loud, relentless thumping continues unabated, as if the album were powered by a vast army of machines working in concert. Slowly, extra clangorous beats come in, then drones, then piano. The intensity and repetition slowly overpowers you, like a deafening clock is playing inside your head, tormenting you. Using a few base elements then the sheer tenacity to bewitch the listener with these ingredients reaches an almost hypnotic state. Or, you could see this is as the world’s politest trance music. Past 7 minutes and strings are introduced to bring a widescreen panorama. Sensational.
‘Coup De Grace’ has a pacey, swelling undertow. The main focal is however is the incredibly dissonant stabs of strings and battered piano keys. Three rhythms all designed to induce paranoia playing at the same time. Imagine the soundtracks of Drive and Psycho blaring in unison. The music gets faster and faster as the tension rises and a slight change of pace with one minute to spare before kicking back in for one last push is exquisite. Don’t play this song while you read a bedtime story to your children; they may never be the same again.
‘Aridity’ is slower but no less claustrophobic. Imagine you are trapped in an air lock, with the oxygen slowly being pumped out. Through the porthole Low era D. Bowie cackles. Slowly, life ebbs away.
‘Wherever I Go, Darkness Follows’ is a distant relation of Joy Division’s Closer, capturing the same sombre, funereal tone. Drones accompany martial robotic beats. The piano provides aching melancholy, being more melodic than elsewhere on the album. Unfurling like the rising sense of dread you feel in the pit of your stomach, this is almost unbearably sad.
‘Perpetual Motion’ would be perfect for the sequence in a horror movie where the monster that you thought was dead, returns for one final scare. After 90 seconds an out of control staccato beat appears, sounding truly industrial in the mechanical sense of the word. Strings tighten the screws. Pace and pressure continues to grow unabated. Or, this could be the kind of dance music that the Predator would listen to. With a minute to go it hits fever pitch and you wonder whatever you were worried about.
‘Someone’s Land’ mix of slow burning drones and ambience gives you the listener a sensation of what it must be like to be a stowaway in the engine rooms of the Nautilus.
‘Haunted Piano’ offers a plaintiff paean to lost friends. Mournful strings play as the rain falls on someone’s last day.
‘In Deference’ mercifully ends the album on a (slightly) happier tone with a catchy melody and gorgeous piano work. It’s slick and very, cool. Then, just when you are getting comfy, the loud, thumping footfalls are back, driving a rhythm of horror back into your consciousness. Something stalks you in the night, down the dark back streets of a deserted metropolis. No matter how far you run it is gaining on you, you can practically feel it’s rancid breath on your shoulder. An intangible grotesque blur, it reaches out to you, oily fingers grab you and then, and then…
Managing to combine both post-rock and space-rock with a film makers ear for drama and atmosphere, Roll The Dice create intense music. Managing to sound more robotic and more emotional than their competitors is a sublime talent. Until Silence is a scary and sad exploration of the outer space we dream of and the inner worlds we inhabit.
Exquisitely ornate and deeply captivating. Extraordinary.