Pinkish Black is a gothic synth band that came out of the ashes of the Denton, TX experimental rock band The Great Tyrant. That band’s bass player Tommy Atkins killed himself in a bathroom and left keyboardist Daron Beck and drummer/synthesizer player Jon Teague to carry on. Instead of carrying on as The Great Tyrant Beck and Teague became Pinkish Black, a name that stands as both a memorial and last memory of their former bandmate. On their third full-length LP, and their first for metal stalwarts Relapse Records, Pinkish Black have finally found their sound. A mixture of Zombi’s dark synth and propulsive drumming, and Bauhaus’ gothic doom courtesy of Beck’s mix of growl and croon vocals, Bottom of the Morning is an amazing journey into the dark places we avoid and only visit in our nightmares.
In a recent interview Beck and Teague said the title of album opener, “Brown Rainbow” came from the two of them watching lots of The Price Is Right reruns from the 70s and 80s. Host Bob Barker displayed nearly every shade of brown in his suits, which coined the term “Brown Rainbow”. The song opens like an old horror film, all organ and doom which quickly morphs into a propulsive drum beat and kicks into something like Zombi being fronted by Ian Curtis. The vocals at first throw you off but quickly become engaging. They push the songs from just instrumental gloom into something deeper. “Special Dark” is menacing. Synth stabs like knives to the gut, drums masterfully beaten to a pulp. Beck’s vocals are reminiscent of A Place To Bury Strangers’ Oliver Ackermann and even Merchandise’s Carson Cox before the chorus explodes into a cacophony of pained screams. “I’m All Gone” is a slow, menacing groove; like Moon Duo slowed to a slithering crawl.
There seems to be this omnipresent fuzz or film that covers these tracks. No matter how hard you scrub and clean it never goes away, leaving your ears numbed by the moan under the surface. “Burn My Body” is a reprieve from the buzz and fuzz and tells the story of the last survivor on an abandoned cruise ship as he waits his fate that will be served up by a boat filled with carnivorous, man-eating rats. It’s a feel-good kind of song. It’s also a showcase for Beck’s rather impeccable baritone voice. “Everything Must Go” is not a cover of a Steely Dan song, but it does evoke the same sentiment. We’re all doomed, so we’re slashing prices as this crap means nothing anymore. This song also brings to mind all those great Giallo soundtracks you pull out around this time of year(or for me all year.) Title track “Bottom of the Morning” is nine and a half minutes and sort of a centerpiece to the album. Drums almost jazzy as the synthesizer wavers in the air like some psychedelic analog snake. “The Master Is Away” is the only instrumental track on the record and it evokes an almost dizzying sense of moving on, amidst all the dark psychedelia contained on the album. “New Dawn Fades” feels like the end. The end of an album, or simply the end of everything. This song should soundtrack the fade out shot of some science fiction epic. Someday maybe.
Bottom of the Morning is a beautifully dark album. As a synth heavy record it stands among some of the best, but with Daron Beck’s vocals it pushes the record into new territory. While standing in the shadows and covering some pretty heavy material, Pinkish Black seems to be trying to reach for some light in the darkness.