LICE’s bizarre debut album is a phenomenon in itself. Whilst many bands struggle to construct and perfect a record alone, ‘Wasteland’ is so much more than just an album; it’s a whole world. Taking the idea of a concept album and riding it full throttle, it was written as a piece of experimental short fiction. Part elegy, part fantasy, it introduces a world populated by frightening scientists and talking genitalia, a world that bares its teeth at our own and forces our attention. It’s an immense and strange modernist feat - even the accompanying pamphlet, one that confuses the story as much as explains it, resembles the modernist manifestoes of the early twentieth century.
The songs race between sounds, encompassing noises straight out of a science fiction soundtrack, electronic inflections as sharp and as delicate as glass, and the unadulterated, pulsating noise of violent guitars and drums. ‘Imposter’ is poised to induce as much paranoia as it is infused with, whilst the low tones of ‘Persuader’ are sinister enough to make your hair stand on edge. Jettisoning prissy, pristine production sounds, the album features a noise intoner based on the ‘Intonarumori’ of Luigi Russolo and his fellow Futurists of early 20th century Italy, a contraption the band built themselves to conjure the atonal buzz of the machine age. It’s a mad, intoxicated voyage powered by unending, unnerving energy; it’s deranged in the most beautiful way. If punk is a loud, bolshy break from the norm, this is punk.
And you thought Dada was weird.