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Pink and Brown / Death Drug - Load Split 12

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Artist: Pink and Brown / Death Drug

Album: Load Split 12

Label: Load

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

I appropriately increased the amount of noise I was listening to around the same time I moved to New York City. This included everything from ambient traffic sounds to the screaming drunkenness of a neighboring superintendent. And as resigning myself to chaos seemed to be the most efficient method of reconciling my environment with the waning battle for internal order, noise music, like free jazz and experimental electronic, began to assume new dimensions. One would never deny Markus Popp and Peter Brötzman purvey a particularly urban sentiment, nor that the improvisational conglomerate of seemingly disparate sounds in such artists transposes a definite logic and rhythm, harnessing the forces of natural environment and musical construct alike to achieve a type of nonlinear catharsis.

Practitioners of punk rock, however, have apparently given up any attempt to reconcile their own surroundings, subsequently retreating into the same vein of self-dramatizing absurdism that has placated everyone from the Left Front of Art to Bobcat Goldthwait. For a genre in which the ends and means were traditionally united, musical styles echoing political and social sentiments in a deliberate manner, the departure is an abrupt one. In such recent manifestations as Arab on Radar and Pink and Brown, the context has shifted from anarchy to sexual aggression, the music characterized by distinct improvisational shifts between noise-core and succinct thematic transitions. That it would require at least a moderate degree of talent is self-evident, and may explain why many of these acts resort to juvenile stage-names and flamboyant costumes.

Pink and Brown have apparently acquired fantastic spaceman-pervert costumes and are named, respectively, Pink and Brown, but nonetheless come close to achieving the same stylistic mastery endemic to the best of noise-punk. The two have played in Landed, Tarentel and a handful of other hardcore acts, and the duo specializes in the same bombastic exercises as recent tour-mates Lightning Bolt, yet they lack the instrumental virtuosity of said Providence stalwarts. But Pink and Brown find redemption in the quality of intensity distinct to their genre. The aesthetic is decidedly lo-fi, and their transitions are a shade less fluid than those of U.S. Maple and Arab on Radar, who make the whole affair seem rather simple, albeit violent. Nonetheless, the breaks are amazing throughout Pink and Brown’s side of the split, most particularly on “Union Bomb,” and Pink’s incoherent lyricism leaves more to the imagination than the typical references to masturbation, papal edict and the like. Skingraft will be releasing the duo’s follow-up to last year’s Final Foods this spring.

A union of members of Le Shok and Fast Forward, Death Drug contributes an extended exercise in J.B.-style funk and uncensored kitsch for the b-side. The track shares the name of the band, as well as a 1985 film, apparently regarding angel-dust, which serves as the sampled vocal track, complete with screaming junkies and non-sequitor references to altered states. Death Drug is less of a band than an experimental joke, but Pink and Brown likely were not concerned with media response when they titled their own fourth track on the LP “Famous Anus.” Meanwhile, Death Drug will hopefully release more great material for Gold Standard Laboratories as Le Shok, possibly moonlighting as tattoo-artists, Pink and Brown will continue to conflate the realms of sonic assault and comic-book perversion, and I’ll sleep soundly amidst a din of car-alarms.

By Tom Roberts

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