venerdì 20 maggio 2011


For almost two years, Blank Dogs, the anonymous one-man band credited to Mike Sniper, has been a some-wave punk machine, churning out cassette after CD-R after 7” without much rest. The recipe is rather simple: Toss a grimy old synthesizer, a guitar, and Steve Albini’s old Roland into a pot and distill the vapors. The resulting discography has been an increasingly manic bunch of catchy melodies soaked in static and distortion, each additional transmission seeming a little poppier, a little more violent.

Blank Dogs still wallows in the defeat of past pessimism, but instead of striking the confrontational stance that dominated previous tracks like “Death Jumpers” and “Pieces,” The Fields just sounds exhausted. “Spinning” starts off with the slow dirge of a death march, but with the drum machine going unchallenged for the entirety of the song, it turns into a mechanical club song. Any sense of spontaneous life is smothered. The head-nodding, foot-tapping hooks and riffs from past efforts were once contorted and challenged through each track. Now, on songs like “Passing the Light,” they’re set on auto-pilot, soldiering on until they run out of gas.
Past releases pitted Joy Division’s bittersweet melodic hooks against Big Black’s snarl. The result was a chaotic, but cathartic, swirling mess. With The Fields, the tension and the terror are gone. There’s no struggle anymore, just a bleak soul unable to stop cranking out pop tunes. “All Photographs” is the final capitulation, a generic Nintendo synth line dominating the most demure throwaway track yet. It seems like this is all Blank Dogs has left, the last hurrah before Mike Sniper’s mask comes off and he unlocks the bedroom door. And with a new full-length destined for In The Red Records, I have to wonder how much more despair can possibly be left to scrape up before he gives up entirely.

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