[Record Review]

Melvins “Pinkus Abortion Technician” (Ipecac Records, April 2018)

Let’s break this down for the uninitiated: the “Pinkus” in the album title refers to one Mr. Jeff Pinkus, the bassist extraordinaire for a marvelous old-school band called The Butthole Surfers.  Furthermore, the “Abortion Technician” part is a nod to Butthole Surfers’ masterpiece, the 1987 classic “Locust Abortion Technician”—which is, for my money, perhaps the weirdest album ever. (It’s the fucking Sistine Chapel of weird rock records, and so I wholeheartedly advise you, especially if you’re young and fond of drugs, to give it a listen.  I jam to that record on headphones, myself. And, if you ever want to clear a room full of family and normal friends, I dare you, I double-dog dare ya, to throw on side one of this album and then just walk away from the stereo. You’ve got about 90 seconds before the audible sound starts, I promise. But I digress…)

Well, as you may have guessed, clever bastard that you are, this album is by Melvins, but Jeff Pinkus plays bass for them on this particular venture.  How’s that for a concept album? On top of that, this iteration of Melvins does a cover of “Graveyard”, a track done TWICE on the 1987 album—once at regular speed, and once at haaaaaallllfff speeeeed.  The latter of which, according to devotees of mescaline, is especially troubling when played as loud as I tend to play it on the ol’ hi-fi.

Oh, and while I’m mentioning tracks out of order, you’ll never guess what other cover they do!  Believe it or not, on this record you can find a Melvins cover of the Beatles classic, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.  I shit you not, this is factually true.

But hey, let us begin from the beginning.  The first track is titled “Stop Moving to Florida”, and—to bring up classic covers yet again—this one is a sort of medley of the James Gang’s “Stop”, which is damn near 50 years old, and another Butthole Surfers song, “Moving to Florida”.  It begins, as one would expect, with a fairly standard rock riff, but its chorus is very unlike your average Melvins chorus. For instance, there is a prominent harmony vocal. Then there’s a nice, open ended breakdown of all the instruments near the end.  …”Move to Florida”, however, is where Buzzo channels not only his inner Surfer, but his inner Captain Beefheart. He is simultaneously wild and rigid, and his decals deserve a bit of licking.

Oh, if only Gibby were here, right?

“Embrace the Rub” is a bit of a shiny credential into the world of art-punk. I have to assume that’s Dale singing. Or is it Jeff?

“Don’t Forget to Breathe”, which clocks in at an alarming seven minutes and fiftythree seconds, is very nearly from the standard Melvins playbook. The operative word being “nearly”. Some obtuse bits of synth work their way in, here, and not for the worse. The pauses between verses are worth a listen.

An acoustic number, “Flamboyant Duck” is another point where, as a longtime fan, I suspect Dale is sonically influencing Buzzo. I think I hear a fingerpicked banjo in there.  The crunchy stuff amid the acoustic instruments is fantastically engineered/produced, as well. Kudos to whomever is running that studio. That ending is so superbly akin to the early Melvins sound, I had goosebumps.

“Break Bread” is a barnburner.   As in, something Mountain would have written back in ’73, or a faux-Sabbath might have tried circa the “Vol. 4” era.  Some of the phased guitars and punchy bass shit deserve a spot on a record. Fo’ sho’.

Everybody knows the Beatles song.  So let me just link to the Melvins cover and save us all a bunch of time:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTi1m3spwZ0b

Try it yourself, chief.

Another weirdly sophisticated number on the album is a track titled “Prenup Butter”.  The bass and drum textures on this one are quite funky. But by the first chorus, it indeed sounds EXACTLY like a Melvins song. So, as a longtime supplicant, I kneel before it.  The lyrics on this one are worth a glance, too, folks. This one is, both on an arrangement and a songwriting level, perhaps the strongest number on the entire album. …Which brings us to:

“GRAVEYARD”!  Go figure. Melvins covered—of their two options—the slowest and sludgiest of options.  Goddamned right they did, and you should be thanking your lucky fucking stars. Now excuse me while I jam out to “Kuntz”.

 

–B. Baxter, 27 Oct. ’18

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