by Oliver Sheppard
Pinkish Black’s sophomore LP, Razed to the Ground, is set for release on September 17. The Fort Worth band’s first and self-titled LP (which was reviewed for CVLT Nation last year, here) was on Denton’s Handmade Birds label; the new album sees them on the larger and more metal-centric Century Media imprint.
Pinkish Black’s sound, however, has thankfully not changed: Razed to the Ground is an opus of doomy, sludgy, crushingly dark music that incorporates elements of doom metal, Projekt Records-style ethereal wave, gothic rock, and other dark music elements. And also as with the first LP, one once again is reminded of 80s Cop-era Swans, early Godflesh (and especially the proto-Godflesh band, Fall of Because), and even stuff like Killing Joke’s “S036″ or Mass’s much-overlooked “Cabbage” release from the 80s. It’s a unique, churning sound that doesn’t fit neatly into any pre-defined categories. There is even a kind of creeping “space drone” twist to the sound this time around that serves as an intriguing development in the band’s evolution. The effect is often eerily psychedelic.
Being that I was a male child of the 80s that grew up in relative solitude in a house that had cable (sometimes even premium channels!), when I was handed the assignment to review an EP from a band named BODDICKER, I instantly went “Wait a fucking second, Boddicker? As in Clarence “Can you fly Bobby” Boddicker? The initial and primary bad guy in motherfucking ROBOCOP?” Justifiably I was a little hesitant to believe that there were still people cool enough to even make that reference, let alone make it their band name. So I sent them an email to get some more information and confirm that it was indeed a Robocop reference. What follows is the full email, verbatim:
In 1960, American novelist John Steinbeck wrote:
“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox.”
Over the decades, Texas has produced a lot of great music, from thrashy 60s proto-punk in the form of the Zakary Thaks, to a large amount of formative and influential punk and postpunk in the form of bands like The Huns, Stickmen with Rayguns, MDC, the Big Boys, the Dicks, Scratch Acid, and Really Red — on up to World Burns to Death, and over to unique performers like the Reverend Horton Heat and outsider musician Daniel Johnston.
In the 1990s and in the past decade, a few Texas bands began exploring the sonic territory that acts like Current 93, Death in June, Fire + Ice, and others had opened up – a type of music that’s been called both “post-industrial” and “neofolk.” Verdandi, who were one of the first Texas bands to begin playing neofolk, hail from Houston. Awen are from the Dallas area, and Gabhar call Austin home. While Awen will be playing in Europe soon, both bands will be opening for Death in June’s show in Austin, Texas on September 14. American neofolk bands are still fairly rare, although groups like Cult of Youth and King Dude (both of whom have either worked with or have professed an admiration for Awen) and others like Wreathes are making up for America’s heretofore poor showing in the neofolk arena. So, while European acts like Rome, Osewoudt, and Of the Wand and the Moon still dominate, American neofolk — especially neofolk of any decent quality — is still relatively unusual. Given that fact, that Texas is home to at least two of the better US neofolk bands there is all the more remarkable.
An interview with Awen
Awen founder and singer Erin Powell was interviewed by Oliver in December, 2012.
Lux Interna’s there is light in the body, there is blood in the sun has been one of my favorite surprises of the year so far. Mixing the doom-isms of Nick Cave with the kind of tinkered Americana popularized by groups like 16 Horsepower, and adding a huge dose of rhythm, it dances instead of drones. I spoke to Kathryn Mary and Joshua Levi Ian via email as they traveled around Europe, and we talked about real and artificial space, inspiration vs. influence, and playing live. Enjoy.
Where have you been so far?
Kathryn: Right now I’m writing from Goteborg, Sweden. We’re currently living in Berlin, but have just been on the road a lot lately.
When did you move to Berlin?
K: We moved to Berlin last Autumn.
LADYBIRD VS. BOTTOM FEEDER
LADYBIRD: What’s it like still using an outhouse?
Nikolaj: Depends what you wanna use it for, and what you’re gonna do out there. It works quite well for taking a shit, but band practices and cooking food doesn’t go too well there, specially not in the winter.
Jonas: I wouldn’t know, I just go in my shorts.
Sebastian : It feels like playing in this band…cold and shitty.
Would you say you practice more or burn churches more?
Nikolaj: I was trying to be funny in the first quesition but this one is quite retarded, so I don’t really know how to answer this. Maybe like this: “We burnt down our practice space, so now we rehearse in a church”… naa
Jonas: Since we spent most of our youth burning churches and taking cool band pics, there aren’t many churches left. Don’t practice much either, though. I’d say 50/50.
Sebastian: We practice more since almost every church in Denmark is made of stones and hard to set on fire (Norweigan “Stav-Kirker” is made of wood and much easier to set on fire but we don’t go there because alcohol and matches up there are fucking expensive).
How many horses do you own between the five of you?
Nikolaj: Prostitution is not looked well upon in the punk community here, so we recently sold all of our whores-es.
Jonas: That’s a very personal question and I am not comfortable answering it.
Sebastian: I don’t trust animals bigger than me, they’re too macho.. so I only own animals smaller than me.
Is this going to be your first time in a motorized vehicle when you come visit the US?
Nikolaj: I give up
Jonas: This is actually my first time typing on a device like this. I wonder how they fit that “microprofessor” in there?
Sebastian: Yup… I would have preferred to use my tour-dragon instead but your customs are so uptight…
BOTTOM FEEDER: Do you feel the natural environments you live in have any impact on your music?
LADYBIRD: Whats does yous means?
Give us 5 pros and 5 cons about being Ladybird.
Pros: Drinking, driving, smoking, farting, playing. Cons: being a Guns n Roses cover band, not knowing really how to play instruments.
What type of music do you listen to at home and what’s your inspiration for making your type of music?
Country Metal like Kid Rock or anything by Steely Dan.
Give us the story on Ladybird.
Once upon a time, shut up.
Your music seems really filthy, depressing and aggressive at the same time. Where do all these emotions come from and how do you get them all into your music?
NIGHTSLUG’s Dismal Fucker is one of the heaviest, most fucked up records of this year and probably the following 20. Emerging from Germany’s Hardcore-Punk scene and featuring (ex-) members of infamous bands like The Now-Denial, Burial, Doomtown or Union Of Sleep, the quality of Dismal Fucker could have been foretold but still surprises with its blatant uncompromisingness. Sludge, as heavy as performed by NIGHTSLUG, is not easy to be found anywhere, but most people surely wouldn’t expect it to come out of Germany. Being the fanboys and –girls that we are here on CVLT Nation, we had to do an interview with NIGHTSLUG to get to know this band more. So I sat down with Jens, the singer and guitarist of the band, and asked him a few questions while having a few beers and listening to the new Black Sabbath album. Besides Jens, NIGHTSLUG is Philip on bass and Fabian on drums.
I guess you could say so. I really wanted to play music, just rehearse regularly. It wasn’t so much about playing live or anything, just to hang out and play music together. So I fell back on Fabian and Philip because it’s always cool to make music with these guys. At first I didn’t even know if they’d be into this kind of sound – because the stuff we did in the past was quite different for sure. But it clicked already at the first rehearsal, so that was that. READ MORE…
Anasazi: A little bit Virgin Prunes and a strong helping of Southern Death Cult — add in liberal amounts of Christian Death, nuke it all in a microwave for a few minutes, and the finished result might look something like this New York City cult-punk-cum-deathrock outfit. The brainchild of urban warrior/poet/necromancer Chi Orengo, Anasazi’s discography (two 7-inch releases, two demo cassettes, and one split cassette with the band Survival) and song titles like “Horror at the Mass,” “Desecration,” “Bone Collector,” and “Mausoleum” tell the tale of Anasazi’s gloomier sonic inclinations. Recently I interviewed Chi about the band’s output and what inspires it.
NYC, of course, has been a natural hotbed of dark music since the days of Velvet Underground. Follow that lineage through to the late 70s punk and no wave scenes that produced everyone from The Cramps, to The Mad, to Lydia Lunch, to DNA, to Klaus Nomi, on through to the 80s NYC deathrock and goth scene that included bands like the Naked and the Dead, Of a Mesh, and Scarecrow (all ably documented in the excellent Dark New York compilation I reviewed earlier for CVLT Nation here), on through to current bands like Rosenkopf, and Anasazi doesn’t seem so out of place. Anasazi’s latest release is a 7-song demo on Inflammable Material.
Interview conducted by Oliver in July, 2013.
Oliver: Chi, let’s some get some basic information out of the way first for readers. How long has Anasazi been around, and who is currently in the band?
Chi: Well, Mr. Oliver, Ansazi was started in 2010 originally with the darkest rain storms and the howling of many trees. It was with myself, current geetarist, and creator Keegan and our friend Mikkey C. on bass, and Eddie from Psychic TV on drums. We jammmed awhile but that didn’t work out due to bears eating them in Jellystone Park.
2011 came around and we got new members. I got the talented Bread Barrely on drums, Jasper on bass, and Christian on synth — members of The Hunt. This began our journey. It was a perfect fit, like OJ’s glove. We started playing shows in summer 2011. Magic moons and whisps of violent ways were in hand, potions were boiled and 420 smoke in basements were in full effect. I KID! We recorded our self-titled demo in the famous weird night basement where the ghost of a lil’ girl roamed. Then Jasper and Christian passed on. RIP. Then the wonderful Haydne from Dream Affair stepped in on bass, then stepped off a ledge. Also RIP. Now we have the great Jess from Survival on bass, who is a delight and a awesome friend. AND DAT IS DE LINE UP NOW! (“SHHH” — MY MOM.)
Are you Secretly Windigos?
Davey: Despite the numerous tests we’ve had performed on us, we are still unsure. One thing for sure is we all constantly have intense cravings for human flesh.
Are you Secretly French Canadian?
That’s just mean guys.
Is that why you spell your name all weird?
We just suck at spelling haaard.
Are there Clones of Russia?
Davey: Oh brother, we’ve tried time and time again. It’s just so hard to recapture that raw exotic vibe he gives off. Sadly we always have to take em out back n shoot em.
TBR: What was the first album cover you saw that really blew your mind?
Santos: My dad had Rick James’ “Bustin’ Out Of L7″ and I remember loving the cover of that album. He read Conan books when Frazetta was painting the jackets and the Rick James cover was in sort of the same vein and gained my interest right away.
TBR: Going back even futher, what is the first interesting visual image that you remember?
Santos: My aunt is a really good artist and had painted characters from The Beatles “The Yellow Submarine” on her bedroom walls. A huge yellow submarine, a Blue Meanie, and my favorite was the Love Glove. The Love Glove wrapped around 2 walls and was so colorful that I would stare at it for long periods of time when I would go in there.
TBR: Do you prefer to work within any specific genre or sub-genre of music?
Santos: Not really. It just so happens that I end up doing most of my work for metal/punk/grind bands. I would like to work with bands from other genres anytime, i just need them to get a hold of me.