Pin-Up Went Down – 342
Release Date: 2010Jun28
Label: Ascendance Records
I honestly do not recall how Carnival In Coal crossed my path some years back; all I know for certain is how happy I am that they did. What could you call them? “Avant-garde death disco” for starters? Or maybe play it safe, and say they are another branch of whatever “extreme metal” has become? I was sorry to hear they broke up back in 2007, but thankfully, their spirit endures through Pin-Up Went Down. There are even direct CiC connections: vocalist Asphodel lent her voice to their Buggles cover of “Living in the Plastic Age” from Collection Prestige, and multi-instrumentalist Alexis Damien was their former live drummer. Once a duo, his brother Nicolas Damien has recently joined the fold as pianist and additional songwriter on this, their second album.
When listening to 342, the best advice I can impart was once given to the White Rabbit by The King of Hearts: “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” It is exhausting yet exhilarating art, passion without pretense. “Diapositive” is a good cross-section of their craft, with its light, jazzy beginning that shifts into punctuated madness after the first minute. Both Asphodel and Alexis explore their vocal breadth, and the latter convincingly channels Mike Patton. But with the former’s schizophrenic attack, one may think she had little vocal control. Wise they were to follow with “Escargot”, where minimal keyboard accompaniment gives no one but Asphodel center stage.
“Essence of I” features twisted recurring Native American rhythms, which I have not heard employed since Tomahawk‘s Anonymous, and arguably the best placement of Alexis’ deep growls versus Asphodel’s soaring clean highs. And remember her creepy little kid voice from “Intrusion” on 2Unlimited? Well that makes a goosebump-inducing return on “Khabod of My Aba”, so get ready.
She truly finds her inner Julie Christmas (Made Out of Babies, Battle of Mice) on “Home”, a moody track that more strongly brings in Nicolas on piano, and even includes xylophone for good measure. “Vaginaal Nathrakh”––besides being frontrunner for best song title of the year––most closely invokes another avant-garde favorite of mine: uneXpecT; especially considering the bizarre Casio-cum-carnival intro, and drunken sax on the outro.
“Paradoxical Sarabanda” contains the last morsels of Metallic heaviness amidst the sweetest sounds Asphodel offers on 342––call it their pop song, if not for the mouthful of a title. And this is fitting for Pin-Up Went Down, who have no ostensible desire for mass appeal. Indeed, this desire would be both frustrating and creatively crippling. I will keep PUWD under my proverbial hat, but not for hiding; I want them at the ready, in case I am faced with anyone that may understand.
FCC: 5, 9
Try: 1, 4, 7, 10
03. Porcelain Hours
04. Essence Of I
05. Khabod Of My Aba
07. Vaginaal Nathrakh
08. Pictures To Speak To
09. Murphy In the Sky With Daemons
10. Paradoxical Sarabanda