Between his work with Black Dice as well as his extensive solo catalog and side projects, Eric Copeland has created everything from noisy hardcore to playful lo-fi dance music. Starting out as a member of Black Dice during the late '90s, when they were a thrash-influenced noise-core band, he remained with them as they progressed into sprawling psychedelia, as on 2002's Beaches and Canyons, to more rhythmic efforts like 2005's Broken Ear Record. After collaborating with Animal Collective's Dave Portner as Terrestrial Tones, Copeland went solo (while still remaining active with Black Dice) with the release of 2007's free-form Hermaphrodite. Subsequent albums like 2013's Joke in the Hole and 2016's Black Bubblegum explored an abstract vision of pop music, while others like 2015's Jesus Freak and 2017's Goofballs were more dancefloor-driven. Eric Copeland was still in high school when he joined Black Dice, a band founded by his brother and some other students of the Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Contributing vocals and electronics to the band in its earliest incarnation, Copeland was with Black Dice almost from their very beginning, rolling with them through various drastic stylistic changes as the years went on. While still involved with Black Dice as a main gig, Copeland started the side project Terrestrial Tones in 2004 with then roommate Dave Portner of Animal Collective. Both members of the duo's respective bands were on temporary hiatus, and they took the time as a chance to collaborate and record. In 2007 Copeland released his first solo album, Hermaphrodite, on the Paw Tracks label. The mostly instrumental album fell somewhere between the electronic experiments of Black Dice and the woozier Terrestrial Tones material, and it marked the beginning of a prolific recording schedule from Copeland. Various 7" singles, CD-Rs, and one-off releases would come regularly between proper albums, often on various independent labels. Alien in a Garbage Dump was released by Paw Tracks in 2009, followed by Strange Days (Post Present Medium) the next year. Issued by Escho in 2011, Waco Taco Combo saw Copeland's work shift into a more rhythmic dimension, employing fractured samples to add relatively straightforward beats to his always wobbly compositions. This trend followed on 2012's Limbo (Underwater Peoples) and crystallized on 2013's Joke in the Hole (DFA) with his least cloudy solo material up to that point. Further singles and EPs followed on DFA, while two mini-albums (2014's Logo My Ego and 2015's Jesus Freak) appeared on Ron Morelli's L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems) imprint. In 2016, DFA released Copeland's mutated pop album Black Bubblegum. Two experimental techno albums followed: Brooklyn Banks (Palmetto Arts) and the double LP Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect (L.I.E.S.). In 2017, DFA released Black Bubblegum Remixed as well as the full-length Goofballs, another exploration of playful, abstract club music. The spontaneously recorded Trogg Modal, Vol. 1 appeared in October of 2018, with Vol. 2 arriving in early 2019. ~ Fred Thomas & Paul Simpson
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Electronic/Dance - Released October 5, 2018 | DFA Records
Trogg Modal, Vol. 1 is described as more carefree than Eric Copeland's previous album. Given the fact that that one was called Goofballs, this one seems like it could be really tossed off and jokey. Copeland's material often seems spontaneous and playful, and this album upholds that spirit, but there's way more concentration on rhythm than on some of his previous outings. Goofballs and Black Bubblegum were much more lyrical than Trogg Modal; here, vocals generally appear in the form of distorted fragments. The album immediately establishes its perky, flippant mood with "Mateo," a simple uptempo beat filled with scattered vocal loops and synth bleeps. "321 Contact" is a minimal synth tune bringing to mind the Normal's "T.V.O.D.," with sinister vocal murmurs tucked behind its racing rhythm. Things slow down a bit for the drowsy thump and drizzling keyboards of "Heads," but the wobbly "Build-A-Brain" revs back up, with ratty hi-hats whirling over an insistent groove filled with echoed snares. "Fresco" is more representative of the outsider house sound common to Copeland's sometime-label L.I.E.S., with eerie disco strings peaking out of the tinny drum machines and detached synth squiggles, and a distinct lack of polish, yet it's not caked in grimy tape hiss like the work of some of his contemporaries. Nowhere near as bizarre or druggy as earlier Copeland releases like Alien in a Garbage Dump, Trogg Modal is still far removed from conventional dance music, but in that context, it's also one of the artist's more accessible recordings. ~ Paul Simpson
Electronic/Dance - Released September 22, 2017 | DFA Records
After presenting as close to a straightforward rock album as he's likely to get with 2016's Black Bubblegum, Eric Copeland explored abstract techno and house with the Palmetto Arts full-length Brooklyn Banks and the double-LP Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect, his fourth release for L.I.E.S. (counting a Black Dice 12"). Like Black Bubblegum, Copeland's 2017 effort Goofballs arrives on DFA, which has been a home to him since Black Dice's landmark 2002 album Beaches & Canyons, but it ends up sounding a bit closer to his L.I.E.S. releases. Most of these tracks consist of thumping drum machines and barely in-sync sequencers, all wrapped in the sort of lo-fi tape-recorded haze expected of experimental musicians venturing into dance music. A couple tracks, especially "Neckbone," have synth basslines which emulate old-school Chicago acid house, while "Disco Ball" is slower and more pounding, bordering on new beat. Some of the warped pop instincts of Black Bubblegum are present here, especially on opener "Boogieman," which features pitched-down vocals and punning lyrics, and is more silly than spooky. "Doo Whatcha Wah Wah," the album's final song, is a bit more of a lazy amble, with vocals pitched both up and down, sort of approximating a more laid-back Detroit Grand Pubahs. Other tracks just use vocals as textures, such as the far-off loop in the background of "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo," which brings to mind Psychic TV's acid house period. "Close Encounters" features the type of vocal scrambling common to Copeland's work, but with more of a heavy, club-friendly beat. "Smearjob" is a bit more subtle and sensual, simmering along without a massive kick drum, but it ends up being one of the album's most intoxicating tracks. The album's title is almost too perfect, as these songs are abundantly playful, but it doesn't come off as a novelty record. Instead, it's another fun, creative release from an artist who has been mutating dance music longer than many of his contemporaries. ~ Paul Simpson
Rock - Released August 14, 2009 | Paw Tracks
As one of the founding members of Black Dice, Eric Copeland has tried his hand at everything from no-holds-barred slabs of post-hardcore noise to dreamy, beat-driven exercises in neo-psychedelia. As a solo artist, Copeland juxtaposes blasts of noise against cannily looped samples from a myriad of esoteric sources to create a tumultuous, often unexpectedly beautiful web of colliding sounds. The seven-track EP ALIEN IN A GARBAGE DUMP represents the first installment of Copeland’s two-part follow-up to 2007’s acclaimed HERMAPHRODITE.
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