Drum's Not Dead (CD + DVD)
DVD + Audio CD
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Drums Not Dead
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DRUM'S NOT DEAD was partly inspired by the LIARS' relocation to Berlin from NYC after their 2004 album They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. From clanging guitars, martial beats, dense drones and pulverizing rhythms to high dreamy harmonies, off-kilter guitar lines and soothing samples of waves lapping, this is LIARS' finest, fullest and most unexpected album to date. Shredding all past reference points, DRUM'S NOT DEAD sees LIARS taking another seismic step forward, switching continents, seizing new musical territory and expanding their audio-visual ambitions. DRUM'S NOT DEAD comes with its own cinematic sister project - a DVD, with 3 film versions of the album, directed by band members Angus Andrew, Julian Gross & filmmaker Markus Wambsganss. Each film is comprised of videos for every track on the album: 36 videos total. From backstage travelogues to surreal animation and mini sci-fi epics, Liars document the process of recording, touring, then visually reinventing each track. 2 disc package - 1 CD / 1 DVD.
Top Customer Reviews
The band uses the diverse capabilities of the studio, with different rooms equipped in different ways, to produce all manner of reverb effects and samples. Each track explores its own sonic space. Rhythm and texture predominate over melody or understandable lyrics.
The theme of the album is apparently (based on various other reviews) the internal conflict between creativity (Drum) and fear (Mt. Heart Attack). I'm not sure whether the band ever articulated this, or whether it has just circulated via reviews and become the standard interpretation. I prefer to think of the personae as Eros (love, the Life Drive) and Thanatos (the Death Drive). It's open, and certainly not clearly spelled out.
I also prefer to think that Liars have a Left standpoint, however difficult this can be to detect through the conceptual layers they bring to their music from their art school training. It emerges most clearly on their 2010 masterpiece Sisterworld, though it was strongly intimated in the title of their 2001/2002 debut album as well (They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top).
That standpoint is submerged here, but I detect it in the lyrics to "Drum and the Uncomfortable Can," which I haven't been able to find online (there are no lyrics included in the booklet). This track has more lyrics than any other "song" on the album, and as is often the case there is a hint of violence emanating from the protagonist. Then Angus says "I'll be at the beach," and I take this as very Significant. Sure it could be any beach ("The Wrong Coat for you Mt. Heart Attack" includes a field recording of surf from Long Beach), but there is a famous slogan from the General Strike in Paris in May, 1968 that would surely be known to art school students:
"Sous les pavés, la plage!" In English: "Beneath the pavement, the beach!"
This is a utopian Situationist slogan indicating the potential for freedom existing beneath the commodified, alienated surface of capitalist society. So Angus may well be referring not to some actual beach, but to the free world beyond alienation. And the warm, loving sentiment of the final song certainly exemplifies a non-commodified, non-alienated relationship.
Or not. As usual, Liars are evasive and evocative, certainly no Clash or Gang of Four in terms of signaling their political intent.
Now that I've heard all the Liars' albums, I can say that they continue to morph and that they become more compelling and relevant as time goes on. While Sisterworld is their masterpiece, their most recent albums, both electronic (WIXIW (2012) and Mess (2014)), are superb!
*** *** ***
I'm not ordinarily that interested in music videos. There is a second disc, a DVD, which includes three recordings of the entire album with accompanying videos -- one by singer/guitarist Angus Andrew, one by drummer Julian Gross, and one by filmmaker Markus Wambsgauss. I haven't yet seen it.
If I could give it more stars I would.
The music is heavy into percussion and synthesizer with very cool vocals.
As you can tell from the reviews, this isn't a readily accessible album.
I believe musicians and creative types will appreciate it.
It is rather genius in its own way.
I saw these guys open up for Radiohead and Tom Yorke gushed about them. Rightfully so.
If you like Hootie and the Blowfish or Jack Johnson you will hate this album.
This is a piece of art.
But immediately following the great success of this album they fired their rhythm section (who have since become the group No Things, who sound much more like that first album than either of these second two Liars albums). It was an incredible bold move, and one that made the unfaithful very wary and hateful of their second album, They Were Wrong So We Drowned.
However, with Drum's Not Dead, the Liars sound seems to be congealing (hopefully not too much, i'm quite enjoying their erratic career so far) into something that can stand on its own without the context of their previous two records. Drum's is probably more similar in aesthetic to Drowned than Monument, but it definately stands on its own, and seems to be a step forward in a relatively similar direction.
There is definitely a tribal element to their rhythms on this album, and I can see some similarities to Animal Collective in their use of tons of congos and some Black Dice like drum effects. While many of the tracks have a driving rhythm, overall its too dark to be dancable like their first, but will get your head bobbing nonetheless.
The album flows as one cohesive musical piece, each track bleeding into the next, but not to a point where it all seems like one song. Lastly, the DVD full of 3 entire low budget video versions of the whole album is an amazing bonus. The video's are very fitting to the music, and the live footage in the studio is very fun to watch with the songs. One of my absolute favorite recent albums, pick it up for sure.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Aside from few fleeting moments of engaging experimentation, the group's sketchy framework exposes a decayed underbelly of creative drought.
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