On the very first full-length for New York's pacesetting RVNG label, Pink Skull takes up the dance-punk DNA characteristic of groups like !!! and The Rapture, mutating it into a wild, wooly beast that's as much of a psychedelic head-twister as it is a dance floor mover. The shambolic, experimental air of Endless Bummer's indie-disco offers a lesson in the importance of geography during the recording process: Had it been cut at a studio in lower Manhattan, it would have sizzled with the bracing compression and relentless grooves one finds on DFA. The barn outside Philadelphia where it was assembled, meanwhile, has seemingly given the members of Pink Skull the mental space to stretch their tunes out into dense and brain-frazzled mini-epics.
Opener "Peter Cushing" takes a stab at revved-up dance tracks, and mostly hits its mark, with angular bass and agitated group vocals, but given that it's coming out at the end of 2009 the track feels solid but a bit belated. The rest of the album uses this dance-punky template as a springboard to reach its loftier, weirder aspirations. It touches on all sorts of psychedelic substrata like kosmiche, motorik and tribal, but it essentially relies on a gritty, garagey take on cosmic disco that parallels UK groups like Chicken Lips and Emperor Machine. The two other full tracks on Side A, "Chicken Dream Inside Egg" and "Ritualistic Bug Use," rock this style to the hilt, and of all the material here will most likely become Pink Skulls' calling cards, as each neatly welds electro, house and psych-rock elements into a swirling, propulsive mass.
Side B opens with the blistering title tune. A disco-rock groove evolves into a feverish acid trip, with a dizzying kitchen-sink production style that includes pots and pan drums and free-jazz skronk. One fears the track might dissolve into a flurry of exploding effects and cat-fight tape noises if not for the beat locked-down underneath. "Oh Monorail" recalls "Autobahn 66" by Primal Scream, both rock updates of the trademark German motorik groove borne from Kraftwerk's "Autobahn." Then the dance beats halt and a hippie freak-out gets beamed in from outer space, with stoner primitive bongo madness and endless trilling flute.
Such interludes give Endless Bummer its air of madcap eccentricity, appearing less like a designed object than like some flotsam dug out of the garbage (i.e. the newsprint found-art collage inside the LP sleeve). The last full track features the group jamming over the kind of sputtering electronic bursts that were characteristic of old Warp records, and are probably the most innovative mash-up between their live-band vibe and experimental predilections. The vinyl LP closes with a bit of soothing synth called "Fired So Fired," which should be probably be titled "Fried, So Fried" as it evokes a weary band after a long freak-out, lying face down, while an infinite loop unspools in serene exhaustion.
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Tracklist: Pink Skull - Endless Bummer A1 Peter Cushing
A2 Chicken Dream Inside Egg
A3 Circling Bwi
A4 Ritualistic Bug Use
B1 Endless Bummer
B2 Oh, Monorail
B3 Fast Forward To Bolivia, 2000 Years Later, Our Hero Finds Himself...
B4 The Inconsiderate Neighbor, As Played By Justin McNulty (And Don't Even Get Me Started On Those Shoes)
B5 Fired, So Fired
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