The Storm Before the Quiet
Danish noise–pop quartet Pinkunoizu, returning nearly a year to the day from their debut LP, hits with front-loaded abandon on their six-track EP, Second Amendment. Between the opening two songs’ 14-minute decathlon of sensational hammer blows and the EP’s less manic—and, indeed, more patient—remainder, one wonders whether this Amendment was ratified with either a vague and ramshackle balance in mind, or perhaps a deliberate cut-and-run strategy to beguile, mystify and overwhelm first, then proceed to a sensible warm-down regimen of light yoga poses for the final 18 minutes. Whatever the band’s aim, the results are uneven and, at the same time, interesting but forgettable.
Kicking off with “The Abyss, Pt. 2”—because “The Abyss, Pt. 1” was a track on last year’s effort, after all—surging, ghostly beats tangle with a rumbling arabesque of synth washes. As tension-building patterns sway in and out of phase for a few minutes, the song eventually settles into a sort of Javanese gamelan, with bell-like tones hammered as unexpected noises tear from side to side with pond-ripple decay. Later, the Indonesian psych spell is shattered to unveil the red-hot firings of a weaponized guitar that grits and groans like a malfunctioning Robby from Lost in Space. It’s all so loud.
Then comes a ride on Pinkunoizu’s “Moped,” whose steady drum pattern and shimmering phaser drone purr at a consistent, highway-gliding speed. Stop-and-start hiccups occasionally punctuate the cruise, with feminine and often unintelligible shouts from a hostess—presumably drummer–vocalist Jaleh Negari—urging us to “Come on!” or some equivalent. (There’s a lot of distortion.) Some time after, a gooey guitar riff cycles with a tornadic gale of metal-on-metal clangor, where synths and sounds whir by like the flora and fauna—and Wicked Witch—across Dorothy’s window. Nothing subtle here.
Until the last five tracks, that is. “I Chi” bobs with gentle guitar strums and an airy synth flute. In the spirit of ambient veterans Air, robot pixie vocals float over mid-tempo vistas, organic-cum-inorganic, recalling a limitless prairie of turquoise mushrooms and hammered steel. Here, the barrier between created and synthetic, living and inert, proves indistinct—and even meaningless. “Gospel of John” too, proves about as spiritual, but, thanks to a funky backbeat, hits a bit harder. Its patchwork of world music cues recalls that of original po-mo soundscapers Eno and Byrne, only—as is often the case with Pinkunoizu—a heck of a lot messier.
Reclaiming its initial energy, the EP finds an unlikely close in “Tin Can Valley,” which charges along like Dick Dale for the texting generation. Its Mideast guitar swings like a crescent-shaped scimitar, while the drums seem to whinny and gallop as a sultan’s favorite steed. Such an equestrian locomotion, of course, summons the perfect time to let loose with an extended flurry of ropy guitar noodles. (About six minutes’ worth, to be exact.) And with that, despite a landspeeder’s trek across all manner of terrains—meadow, steppe and tundra—Second Amendment, for all its imbalanced enthusiasm, never finds a locus or any consistent identity. Like doing chest flies with a Thighmaster, it’s just a weird-ass workout routine.