The nighttime is the home of eeriness, the time when the strangest, most mysterious things happen as creatures lurk in the shadows. Storms are always equally comforting and frightening, as lightning dashes across darkened rooms, and thunder can yank you from your sleep. It’s always when we feel most vulnerable as well, fearing intruders or any spirits lurking in search of us.
No matter how long I’ve listened to Texas-based duo Pinkish Black, despite the amount of times I’ve visited to their records, I’m never able to shake the feeling that their music is a mysterious entity in the room waiting for me to let down my guard. Their chilling, alien keyboards and driving rhythms combine elements of doom, industrial, and synthwave, and immersing yourself in their music means leaving yourself prone to their flesh-crawling compositions that creep inside your bones and haunt you forever. The band’s darkly immersive fourth record “Concept Unification” reveals a more imaginative but also morbid version of the band that never lets you even touch comfort, much less know it intimately. The pairing of vocalist/keyboardist/synth player Daron Beck and drummer/synth player Jon Teague dig down for their darkest emotions and ideas and slowly weave them through these six tracks (eight if you buy it digitally) that chew on your nerve endings and leave you in a cold sweat.
The title cut opens the record by bleeding in under the door, synth sheets dropping, and sounds floating, as Beck’s voice feels detached from reality, like a lobotomized soul. The track turns sleepy and hypnotic as words warble, the keys glow, and the track ends in echo. “Until” has keys fluttering as the pace picks up, and the vocals are far more direct. Things feel apocalyptic, as keys zap, the plying gets burly, and Beck insists, “It was nothing that you thought it would be, and you will throw it all away in the end,” as the track corrodes and fades. “Dial Tone” is one of the best songs here, one that feels like you’re in the midst of an uneasy dream. The track unfurls, the singing splashes in echo, and the ambiance is surreal as Beck calls, “I call and talk to dial tones,” almost as if he’s not with it. Strange keys then blare as the final moments shimmer. “Petit Mal” is an instrumental piece that has keys dancing electronically, mixing into proggy movements, then feeling like the soundtrack to an early 1980s abduction film before it bleeds into a trance.
“Inanimatronic” follows, another instrumental piece, that emerges with noises striking as the sounds crawl around and numb the senses. Sounds vibrate while the music sifts through the clouds, floating ghostlike over everything before slipping into static. “Next Solution” is the 11:59-minute closer if you have the physical version, and it’s a classic Pinkish Black epic that has clean keys dripping, the singing quivering, and the drama striking on high. The song moves slowly before getting rougher with the low-end rumbling and Beck crooning with his smooth, dark singing. The pace spills as mystery picks up, with the synth flooding and zany sounds stinging. As we wind to a close, the music gets muddier in spots, the pace and singing slur, and everything drains into the stars. The digital version contains two more songs, the first being “Away Again” that’s a virtual sound scape with sleepy synth lines, ambient drone, and more deep singing, with all these elements helping melt away your inhibitions. “We Wait” is direct and built on industrial knocks, honey-rich singing, and keys smearing as Beck continually laments, “We sit back and sleep, they eat away, and we wait.”
Pinkish Black’s ghoulish tendencies and absolute commitment to discomfort are as rich as ever on “Concept Unification,” a record that’s a logical extension from where the band had traveled before. Your skin and innards are likely to crawl, as the waves of sound wash over you and make you see strange visions. The night isn’t always the safest place to be, and Pinkish Black’s music is a stark reminder that if you’re not wary of what’s around the corner, it easily could be your end.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pinkishblackband/
To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/b/pinkish-black
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords