Pink Drone – Modernism
(Hip Slang Records)
Limited Edition Vinyl / CD / DL
Pink Drone have just released their second album, Modernism, on Hip Slang Records, following on from last years Fluxus.
Featuring 11 tracks, Modernism was recorded by Mancunian born multi-instrumentalist John Rose between January and March in Ledbury this year. Anyone listening to this ‘of a certain age’ should instantly be able to tell a lot about John’s childhood viewing and listening habits. After a couple of listens I’m taken back to 70’s and 80’s school programmes; Tomorrow’s World and the BBC Sound Effects album series.
I put this to John and he agreed, “that’s the sound I was going for, honestly. It’s a whole range of influences as usual and primitive equipment with guitar effects. The Krautrock motorik 4/4 beat on tracks like Catalyst, Antenna and Düsseldorf; Underworld on Disorder; mutant Doctor Who theme on Iso; Young Marble Giants on Parachute and Metal Box era PIL on Somnambulist.”
Somnambulist (meaning a sleepwalker, I had to Google it so hopefully have saved you a job) was the first piece released to promote Modernism along with a slightly surreal and unnerving video. “The video was filmed inside the partially abandoned Barrett Browning Building in Ledbury late at night with its creepy dark corners, decaying walls, spider webs and the spooky cellar, attic and grand staircase. We wanted to evoke an air of mystery with shadows, odd camera angles, projected effects and a strobe light, influenced by films like The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Carnival of Souls and early Bauhaus videos, no one seems to be making videos like that anymore with that element of theatre!”
As mentioned, this track is also very PIL influenced, and probably my favourite track. John explains, “it was one of the last tracks recorded for the album and was kind of the missing piece I needed. It began with the repetitive bassline and I wanted it to sound something like Metal Box era PIL and Ghost Town by The Specials. I added the spooky synth, which was an accident really as the track on the recording desk was partially broken and created that eerie sound. The guitar bits were added very spontaneously, the track seemingly taking on a life of its own.”
With Modernism, John has expanded the Pink Drone sound, even bringing in his partner, Jeanette McCulloch, on the track Parachute. I asked him how this had come about, “Jeanette, who is also an artist, wanted to collaborate on a song, kind of with the minimalist feel of Young Marble Giants, who she loves and introduced me to many years ago. I had the tune first and then Jeanette wrote down some poetic lyrics on a notepad. After I added a couple of lines and before you know it we had the song. Just a very simple melody with a vintage synth and guitar. It has that kind of dreamlike imagery of walking out in the countryside and escapism, letting your mind wander.”
Whilst there are clearly several influences and echoes of the past in Pink Drone’s music, it sounds contemporary and fresh. As with the Fluxus, it really does reward repeat listening as it’s easy to get lost in its soundtrack-ish nature.