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Drum's Not Dead (CD + DVD)

3.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Be Quiet Mt. Heart Attack!
  2. Let's Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack
  3. A Visit From Drum
  4. Drum Gets a Glimpse
  5. It Fit When I Was A Kid
  6. The Wrong Coat For You Mt. Heart Attack
  7. Hold You, Drum
  8. Its All Blooming Now Mt. Heart Attack
  9. Drum And The Uncomfortable Can
  10. You, Drum
  11. To Hold You, Drum
  12. The Other side of Mt. Heart Attack

Disc: 2

  1. Drum's Not Bread a film by Julian Gross
  2. The Helix Aspersa a film by Angus Andrew
  3. By Your Side a film by Markus Wambsganss

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 21, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Mute (Artist Intelligence)
  • ASIN: B000EJ9VUW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,533 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Scott Bresinger on March 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD
If you've been following the career of the Liars (and who hasn't?), you probably know they started out in New York, but recently moved to Berlin. They also started out playing noisy, angular but funky post-punk on their debut album, "They Threw Us All In a Trench and Stuck a Monument On Top." Album number two, 2004's "They Were Wrong, So We Drowned" boasted a different rhythm section and created a concept album about the German holiday Walpurgisnacht that was radically...different than the debut. Vaguely tribal, very arty and noisy all over, it alienated many of their fans, except for those who listen to things like Wolf Eyes for fun. You know who you are.

The new album, "Drum's Not Dead," is another sharp left turn into uncharted territory. The move to Germany seems to have been on purpose; the spirit of Krautrock bands like Can and Faust is all over this album. On the first listen it seems experimental and willfully "difficult," but repeated listens will focus things a bit. Overall it's a lot quieter than previous efforts--there are moments that recall Sigur Ros and post-"Kid A" Radiohead. Not leaving New York totally behind, other possible reference points could be Black Dice, Animal Collective and of course Sonic Youth, so when I say "quieter," I don't necessarily mean "soft." Many songs feature Japanese Taiko-style drumming and atmospheric washes of guitar. Sometimes things get noisy, but nothing that'll get you evicted. Oh, yeah, and did I mention that it's another concept album? The "story," and I use the term very loosely, revolves around a pair of characters called Mt. Heart Attack and Drum, who represent the yin/yang duality of a person. The former is stress and self-doubt and the latter is creative energy and productivity, or something like that.
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Format: Audio CD
Liars seem to be characterized ultimately by their extreme boldness within their own musical environment. On They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top they showed up as inovators of what one could call a very short lived period of dance punk, which seemed to morph pretty quickly into a much less experimental pop phenomeon with groups like Bloc Party and what have you.

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.
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Format: Audio CD
In a musical climate increasingly geared toward the mp3/single song format, Drum's Not Dead is an Album with a capitol A. It is a sprawling masterwork that demands total immersion, sincere consideration, and yes, some initial patience. Much like a Rothko painting, this record is about textures and subtleties, revealing a bit more of itself with every listen. Liars are minimalists who, with few tools, have achieved something both spacious and infinitely dimensional. After many listens, Drum's Not Dead eludes familiarity. It is always something new, adventurous and unashamed. Return to it now and then, and it will certainly hook you.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Liars recorded this album in a studio in what was once East Berlin -- Planet Roc. There is only one traditional *song* on the album, and that's the last one, the lovely "The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack." The rest (47 minutes in all) is tremendously evocative, with a mainly melancholy mood. Aaron Hemphill joins Julian Gross for a two drummer sound for many of the tracks, with Angus Andrew on guitar. Hemphill also plays oboe on "It's All Blooming Now Mt. Heart Attack."

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).
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