Flashbulb Flashback: Pinkish Black / Villain Music // 9.12.12

{Updates: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinkish_Black, https://pinkishblack.bandcamp.com

Occasionally, a record reminds you of things you’ve heard but stands alone in a kingdom without need of qualification, too unique to rely on the generalities of genre. These records are defined by raw originality, often artistic achievement of this magnitude etches itself onto our emotional core. Pinkish Black’s eponymous debut album is a record of such splendor – viscerally imaginative and spellbinding.

The music comes on like a drill, as the machine cranks deeper into the frontal lobe, it deposits metallic granules to tear grey matter. The surges of the low end fold under the propulsive gut of Jon Teague’s kit. Daron Beck’s sci-fi synths coat the tunes in black light. A torrential descent down Duchamp’s staircase finds a cauldron of voices trembling against a cascade of percussion. Soon the low end curls and the chorus of infamy floats above. With Swansian patience, the structure returns to a strong theme only to let it decay once again.

I sat down with the duo shortly after their first Austin show with Agalloch. Daron elaborates on how they operate, “We do what we want to do, but I think we’ve unintentionally tapped into the open ears of metal fans. I know everybody in the crowd has listened to Foreigner. Agalloch’s fans didn’t know what to think about a band with no guitars, but they listened.” That’s all it takes with this band. In Pinkish Black’s music the principles of attraction and destruction are fused, “People don’t realize they are listening to the lead line from ‘Waiting for a Girl like you,’” adds Beck subversively. While in the Violet Crown they made it a point to have a last drink at the soon-to-close Lovejoy’s. A legendary downtown bar where I stumbled in or out of hundreds of times over the years, the loss of Lovejoy’s represents another old-school Austin business run under by skyrocketing property costs. By the time they got there, all the bar had left was gin and soda. “The smell when we got there was quite foul,” Teague adds.

Recorded at Echo Lab in Argyle with Matt Barnhart, this was their first time working digitally, “We wanted it to sound different than what we had done before.” They were able to move twice as fast working with computers as opposed to tape. Denton’s boutique label Handmade Birds put the record out on pink vinyl and CD, Beck voices their appreciation of label head, R. Loren, “He’s been very supportive. Found out we were playing down in Austin and printed up CDs just so we would have stuff to sell.” The pink vinyl version is currently being re-pressed, but will hopefully be available soon.

As more people learn their name, Pinkish Black continues to attract interest from within the music business. Glad to be older and less impetuous, they are taking their time sorting out their future. “Luckily we’ve had enough friends go through this stuff that we know what to ask.” When I ask for the best description for their goth-meets metal sound beast, Daren Beck responds immediately, “Our friend Dave Coates calls it Villain Music. This is based on watching wrestling a lot. He says that villains are evil but they are also sympathetic ‘cause there’s a reason they’re evil. I guess we’re kind of the soundtrack to that.” As though inherent to every villain is an origin story, perhaps the music of Pinkish Black is a tour into that dark and tortured psyche.

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