I have a weird affinity for wanting to feel uncomfortable and a little bit on edge. I was terrified by a lot of things growing up, including alien abductions, what lurked in the dark woods surrounding my childhood home, ghosts, you name it. Having an overactive imagination didn’t help matters much, because I always found new and more disturbing ways to imagine each of those scenarios.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve embraced those things that made me feel so strange as a kid. In the fact, in the potential TMI department, I still take showers in the pitch black because that used to fill me with anxiety and fear as a kid, and I want to recapture some of that feeling now. Maybe it’s some twisted form of nostalgia for me. Anyway, music that that sparks some of those uneasy feelings inside always end up being stuff to which I gravitate. That’s what made me love Pink Floyd as a kid (the spacey synth terrain always gave me goosebumps), Zombi, and now Pinkish Black. Ever since hearing their imaginative, woefully morbid debut record “Everything Went Dark” that landed in 2011, I have been hooked on the band’s strange passages that feel like they arrived here from another era, another dimension, right smack in the middle of the night when everything is tenuous.
The band—Daron Beck (vocals, keys, synth, mellotron) and Jon Teague (drums, synth)—are back with one of their darkest turns yet in “Bottom of the Morning.” If you’ve been on the ride with the band ever since they rose from the ashes of The Great Tyrant (more on them later), they’ve been making sounds that would sound perfectly played at top volume, late at night, while you drive down a desolate highway toward nothingness. The band always has had tragedy at their fingertips (hell, the very reason for their name, which we covered before, is marred with horror), and the past few years have been no different. “Bottom of the Morning” right away feels like a record you wouldn’t want to hear at your most vulnerable, for you might disappear down the drain with the band. Even the strange cover art—that brownish rainbow arching over a city—feels unsettling, like everything you know has changed and been replaced with something so alien, you can’t help but feel out of your element.
“Brown Rainbow” fittingly begins the record, with dark, doomy keys spilling forth and the music practically intoxicating. “The end is here to stay,” Beck mournfully, but coolly wails, with the murky strangeness flooding over, into your veins, and straight to your mind. “Special Dark” actually has some buried shrieks at its front end, as if panic has struck, and then the song bursts open further. Beck’s singing is a rich baritone here (well, it is most places), as the music achieves a chilling swirling effect. There is a fierceness to this one, a mission to make you feel as unwell as possible, and all of the sounds blast out and head right toward “I’m All Gone.” The keys smear, with the singing coming as a low register, deliberately delivered and bringing with it personal destruction you can reach out and practically feel. “Burn My Body” is eerie and claustrophobic, with the dramatic first minute or so feeling like the introduction theme for a villain slipping in through the fog. The vocals burn slowly, while the music achieves the essence of a late ’70s sci-fi film, feeling murky and strange right down to its core.
“Everything Must Go” has a rambling, zombie-like pace, feeling playful on one end, threatening on the other. The keys bounce and pulsate, tearing open and letting a UFO beam rip your eyesight apart. The noise keeps building, while laser sounds zap all over the place, lighting up every corner. The final minute is frantic and anxiety inducing, and it sets the stage nicely for the record’s 9:31-long title track. Here, synth fog rolls in, with the vocals coming softly and disarming. The sounds start to build up and rollick, with nightmare synth oozing and a trippy, psychedelic window opening you up to a world of colors you didn’t know existed. The drums crash down, key strikes hit like asteroids, and the manic pace spills over into quiet admission of, “Everything’s the same again,” a line that stirs over and over before the track slips into dizzying dreams. The closer “The Master Is Away” is an instrumental track that find keys dripping down, almost whimsically, while beats splash, synth envelops, and a thick haze rises and sets, making everything in front of you impossible to see, yet you head into the void anyway.
We mentioned The Great Tyrant earlier, the band in which Beck and Teague played with Tommy Wayne Atkins before his untimely demise. Their second and final record “The Trouble With Being Born” finally is being released on a limited basis by Relapse. The record is rougher around the edges, confrontational in a much different way, and certainly the obvious genesis for what was to come with Pinkish Black. Coupling this record with “Bottom of the Morning” gives you a great perspective on which bizarre cloud this band was formed, and how far it has come in the past half-decade. Both records have their own merit, with “The Trouble” being an ominously named record that still scars, and “Bottom” being one of the finest things Teague and Beck ever did together. Get ready to feel like you’re having an out-of-body experience from which you may never awake.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pinkishblackband
To buy either album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com