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SHOCKING PINKS Singles DFA spd j01 (2007)

Shocking Pinks is essentially the creative outpourings of one person, Kiwi Nick Harte. Apparently raised in a quiet part of New Zealand's South Island, Nick like many before him experienced feelings of isolation, loneliness, and by the sounds of this CD, bouts of melancholia. And in doing so he unwittingly stumbled upon some uncompromising musical influences along the way such as My Bloody Valentine.

But probably more relevantly Shocking Pinks music has been touched - wittingly or otherwise - by such ambient godfathers as Eno, Bowie in his 'Low' period, and thereafter Jesus & The Mary Chain and Sonic Youth etc. But whatever influenced him back in his native New Zealand, Nick has managed to assemble an audio package that reflects shifting ambient moods which are given their expression through some dense sonic textures with a little help from the drum and bass school.

Thus 'August 3rd' the B side of the opening 'This Aching Deal' manages to convey a bleak audio landscape, while on 'Victims' he adds a mixed back slightly distorted vocal (pure Mary Chain) to a more up tempo arrangement.

For the most part Shocking Pinks offer you snap shots of a time and a place, perhaps even a fleeting thought process. And on one of his best efforts, the straight ahead love song 'April/May', he adds shimmering guitars that hum like a swarm of bees, with some perfunctory crashing cymbals and a slightly processed voice. It all adds up to an angular feel to disguise what is in essence a lovely slice of pop.

On the best effort 'The Narrator' Nick cleverly double tracks his voice and utilises a harmonium style sound loop and washes it over with a layered soundscape that glides in and out like a slowly passing train, no beginning and no end. And it is in his overriding role as a producer that Nick excels most, as Shocking Pinks' raison d'etre seems to be to explore the full parameters of ambient sounds and then twist and turn them and make them into something else again. To this end, Nick employs his voice as an additional instrument on 'Dressed to Please', a song in search of a black and white video.

On the closing 'Smokescreen', he appears to be using a theramin to tease out a melodic concept over some eastern flavoured percussion. The slightly overextended piece creeps past the seven minute mark before he adds his own vocals on an outro that long before had already established its disguised dance groove. Confused? You will be, but no-one promised an easy ride, and repeated listens bring additional rewards;

Taken as an introduction to the work of Shocking Pinks this 7 track promo collection of sound clips presented as an unlikely collection of A and B side singles is a fine taster and comes partially recommended. It remains to be seen whether the Shocking Pinks can translate interesting single into a full blown album


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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