Dead Boomers is the relatively unknown Australian power electronics duo of Mark Groves and Leith Thomas. Most of their output up to this point has come out via their own label Sabbatical, which is also co-run by one Marcus Cook whom is otherwise known as Default Jamerson. The label itself focuses on CD-R and tape releases, with this Dead Boomers album being their first LP offering. Prior to “The Pig in the Python”, Dead Boomers’ output consisted of a 2xTape (“Sharon Stone / Michael Douglas”) and a CD-R (“Family Money”), both of which could be found on Sabbatical. In 2010, they also found support for a release on Altered States Tapes with a live CD-R. In addition to Dead Boomers, Groves and Thomas have worked together in the experimental rock / hardcore project “True Radical Miracle” with Evelyn Morris and Scott O’Hara where they’ve had arguably more success based on their support from other labels including the United States-based Iron Lung Records. This certainly, at least for Groves, isn’t the end of the line in regards to musical output however. He also has one project that is even less known in Dick Threats (see “Meat Cash” on Sabbatical), but his main claim to fame had been in the doom project Whitehorse whom many may also remember Nekrasov as having been part of. Groves’ participation in this project was long-lived stretching back as far as 2004, but unfortunately they parted ways last year. The trail from here becomes murky, but it seems to include the likes of Collapsed Toilet Vietnam, Absoluten Calfeutrail, and George W. Bush.
While it seems like Groves has been all over the map in terms of abrasive music, Dead Boomers falls squarely into the industrial noise side of experimentation, namely power electronics. Names like Whitehouse immediately come to mind though the project seems to avoid subject matter like that which is immediately apparent in projects like Nicole 12 or Brighter Death Now. That is, there’s nothing overtly “shocking” here, for lack of a better word considering those who listen to this type of noise are likely bound to be desensitized beyond any doubt. Many of the lyrics seem to be written, sometimes in fragmented fashion, in regard to a critical perception of modern social trends, from the mocking schizophrenic mindset of “Vintage Summa Cum Laude” to the obvious implications of “Send Flirts and Modify your Profile” and back to “A New Altamont” which seems to compare the Altamont affair with Meredith Hunter to the current generational gap both economically and culturally. Thus, this is a vocal effort that showcases a man fed up with the modern obsessions of society.
Like the subject matter, the noise featured on the release comes off as somewhat tame and straight-forward. The album opens with a general recurring blip, high-end dissonance and a scraping static that swells into the trudging, nearly hypnotic industrial rhythm of “Vintage summa Cum Laude” and its minimal, mid-level noise background. “The Hammer” opens immediately with promise on an unexpectedly loud accent hit with an accompanying high-end squeal. “Send Flirts…” opens with a rhythmic edge, pumping gutteral industrial noise behind disgusted vocals. “A New Altamont” is rhythmic again, but more in the sense that there is recurring electronic percussion. There are interesting elements here and in the previous track, but both end as quickly as they began. The most interesting track on this side is actually the last, “Leave Flowers Now”, whose lyrics simply encompass lines requesting the birth and death information of an individual as well as the submitter’s name. The vagueness of the lyrics here work well with the track bring about both personal dread and thoughts including how the submitter of information like this must feel about their own mortality and that a person will one day submit their death information. The noise matches the bleakness of thought in that respect, existing in a void of nothing with the exception of sparse metallic scraping. This track is the first sign of where Dead Boomer’s creative output comes together into something fulfilling and legitimately unnerving.
In regards to electronic prowess, the B-side is where the album really takes hold. In addition to being completely devoid of vocals and thus departing from power electronics all together, strong industrial minimalism pairs up with groaning noise, feedback and electric surging similar to the sound heard around power lines to create an impressive atmosphere of general anxiety. The opening of Side B, “The New Scarlet Letter”, features the fiercest noise on the album and attains a level of brutality that finally raises the band up amongst their peers in regards to abrasive quality. Generally though, much of the sound is made up of wall noise backed by minimal percussive elements or metallic clanking. These tracks can get moderately dark and devoid of harshness enough outside of the metallic edge that they border on dark ambient, especially with “Burden”, and the closer, “The Golden Boomers”, the latter of which seems to actually embrace that quality.
Despite the rebound of quality on side B, there just isn’t much exciting or new in regards to the power electronics face of the project. It touches on some unique subject matter with “Leave Flowers Now” and it would have been interesting to see lyrics for “The New Scarlet Letter” as the implications in potentially disturbing themes are nearly boundless, but the failure to take tracks like “A New Altamont” to a new level when they had promise in their humble beginnings really hurt this record. This is a burden often suffered by vocalists in power electronics today — fucking let it out! Say what you mean because this kind of hazy, indefinite lyricism needs to mean something sincere if you’re going to keep it in a vague four-lines. Still, there are many moments where it shows promise for future releases.
A1) The Pig in the Python
A2) Vintage Summa Cum Laude
A3) The Hammer
A4) Send Flirts and Modify your Profile
A5) A New Altamont
A6) Leave Flowers now
B1) The New Scarlet Letter
B2) One in Eighty Five
B3) Synthetic Entheogen Private Party
B6) The Golden Boomers