Roll The Dice. Now that’s an interesting band name. Really gives you plenty to go on, doesn’t it? So many connotations and directions you can head with a name like that. Now I didn’t pick up their album Until Silence because I thought their name was cool(which I did.) No sir, I picked it up because they make some damn fine music. Music that is hard to really define. Just when you think you’ve got ’em figured out they do a complete 180 degrees and you’re back at square one.
The first time I heard this Swedish duo was over the summer. They were a part of the Blanck Mass-curated re-imagined score to The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears. They opened that double LP with the spectacular “Portal”, a killer synth-heavy track that was equally inspired by Italian horror scores as it was John Carpenter. That was easily one of the standouts on an album full of ’em. So when I started investigating all of the individual artists on that record Roll The Dice stood out. I checked with my local record guy and he was able to get me Until Silence. These guys do big, cinematic, and foreboding really, really well.
The album opens with big and hefty “Blood In Blood Out”, a mix of Carpenter tension and electronic swagger. Pulsating electronic rhythm is made all the more dramatic with piano and crackling snaps like it’s an aged piece of electronic musical history. “Assembly” has a monstrous cinematic feel to it. It’s a desert death trip into the heart of someone’s darkness. Big and bodacious. “Coup de Grace” feels like a panic attack building inside your head. Muffled percussion is accented with stabs of quick strings and a truncated piano note. This would be the part in a horror film when the teenage babysitter is running through the neighborhood screaming for help as she’s been tailed by the remorseless killer. “Wherever I Go, Darkness Follows” is sub-level bass slowly rising to the steely top. It’s like the Chemical Brothers and Cliff Martinez collaborating on a film score. It’s dark, dreary, and quite wonderful.
So Roll The Dice are an electronic duo for sure, but there’s so much more here than electronic noodling. Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt have a knack for the dramatic and building a mood from very little. Nothing on Until Silence sounds contrived or meandering. Every song on this album has a cinematic vibe. Like each song is scoring a piece of some nonexistent thriller. A thriller I’d gladly pay to see in the cinema, folks. These two guys are very unique in the use of noise and dissonance in order to convey a mood and vibe. As much as I liked Reznor and Ross’ take on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I think Roll The Dice would’ve done the film justice. Their icy soundscapes and intense rhythms would’ve been the perfect aural backdrop for cold and foreboding Copenhagen. Just my opinion though.
“Someone’s Land” is a relatively short noise interlude. Like an Aphex Twin track slowly melting in a tape player. It should show up in a David Lynch film someday. It must, really. “Haunted Piano” is quite lovely and lives up to its title, while “In Deference” is jittery and skittery with heavily reverbed piano throughout. There seems to be so much happening within each song that its hard to discern what you’re really hearing from what your mind is putting their for you discover. I’ve listened to Until Silence several times now and each listen has unlocked something different each time. There are cinematic elements, straight up electronic album vibes, and the feeling of pure noise experimentation throughout this album. For me, these Swedish music mavens have their own very unique aesthetic in their music making. It’s not all vintage synths going for that Frizzi or Rizatti vibe; and there’s too many orchestral flairs in their music to be labeled Carpenter fanboys. Sure, Roll The Dice have certainly been influenced by all of that, but there’s a real knack for real songs here. They can create a mood and paint a scene with their compositions, but there’s also an element of New Order, Depeche Mode, and darker fare like Bauhaus lurking under the surface as well. All of those elements are swirling together here and giving us something new, dark, and alluring to sink our teeth into. I might be accused of sitting around my living room and spinning Fulci score after Fulci score and that wouldn’t be completely a fib(shut up! that was between you and me!), but I can also appreciate a catchy tune, too. Roll The Dice appreciate that as well, bub.
From what I can tell these two have been putting out music as Roll The Dice since 2010. A self-titled album came out that year, with In Dust following right after in 2011. In Dust is more minimal sounding. More straight up electronic and in line with some of the heavier synth stuff we’ve heard plenty of. Despite that it’s a pretty stellar LP. You can hear how Roll The Dice got ambitious from In Dust to Until Silence. It’s a great progression. I haven’t heard their first one, but I plan to change that.
If you fancy yourself someone who likes to get your mind blown open by a great, dense album, then get rolling with Roll The Dice(see what I did there??) Until Silence is an amazing record. And if you haven’t heard Blanck Mass Presents : The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears, what are you waiting for man!?