Decisive Pink, “Dopamine” (Fire)
A newish supergroup, Decisive Pink combine the charmingly peculiar talents of Russian producer Kate NV and former Dirty Projectors vocalist/musician Angel Deradoorian. The former's built an enchanting discography over the last decade with playfully experimental, electronic releases on important labels such as RVNG Intl. and Orange Milk. As I wrote on Slog last year, “Kate NV possesses Kate Bush's knack for beautiful, non-obvious melodies, Björk's predilection for tonal distortion, Laurie Anderson's use of mesmerizing vocal abstraction, and a love of Nobukazu Takemura's textural cuteness.” The latter helped to make Dirty Projectors one of the more interesting, breakthrough US indie-rock groups of the '00s/'10s and released an ornate, psychedelic-pop solo album in 2015, The Expanding Flower Planet.
Now operating as Decisive Pink (named after a painting by Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky), the intercontinental duo has released Ticket to Fame this summer. After a few listens, you may conclude that that title isn't a tongue-in-cheek gag. Deradoorian possesses a gorgeous voice and poetic skills as a lyricist and Kate a masterly minimalist compositional touch. “Cosmic Dancer” comes on like Philip Glass going motorik, with Kate Bush-esque vocal drama layered atop the glittering, cruise-control coolness. “Destiny” sounds like a more accessible take on Dieter Moebius/Conny Plank/Mani Neumeier's rhythmically punchy electro mindfuckery from their innovative 1983 LP, Zero Set. Further Germanic influence can be heard on the funky, gliding “Haffmilch Holiday.” Like Harmonia going coldwave, it's a frosty delight and high-quality earworm. And if you want to hear giddy, verging on ecstatic krautrocking down the Autobahn at 160 kilometers/hour, go to “Rodeo.”
“Potato Tomato” engages in dizzying, Aphex Twin-like absurdity while “What Where” brilliantly emulates the cascading, marimba-happy environmental music that inhabited Japan's '80s music scene, which has enjoyed a resurgence of interest over the last decade. The electro pop of “Ode to Boy” is perfectly poised between quirkiness and accessibility, although the synths arc and glint like Robert Fripp guitar solos. You can't say that Ticket to Fame is predictable!
Catchiest of all might be “Dopamine,” a loping, gleaming funk jam that recalls Tom Tom Club's fun-loving buoyancy and the euphoria that the titular substance bestows. Kate's radiantly smeared synths contrast with Deradoorian's lament about consumerism's hollow, bittersweet pleasures.
Sitting at home, feeling alone
Staring at my laptop and telephone
I'm browsing the sites, I'm trying to find
Something to fill up the void and pleasure my mind
Nothing seems to satisfy me, wow
I think I'm losing my sanity
Quite a relatable sentiment, and packaged in club-friendly sonics. You can hear Decisive Pink perform these tracks at Barboza on October 26.
The Daily Flash, “Violets of Dawn” “Jack of Diamonds” (Guerssen)
Dubbed in the press release as “Seattle's first 'alternative' band from the 60s,” the Daily Flash weren't so much “alternative” (whatever that means) as they were skillful practitioners of the slightly-delic folk rock that flourished on the West Coast in the middle of that momentous decade. Fans of the Byrds, the Youngbloods, the Beau Brummels, and Bob Dylan will surely dig what the Daily Flash were laying down in our fair city nearly 60 years ago. (The band folded in 1968, but reunited in 2002 with two members of the Kingsmen. Original guitarist/vocalist Steve Lalor passed away in 2018.) So, it's great news that the Spanish label Guerssen has compiled the band's rare 45s, demos, and unreleased studio and live recordings on The Legendary Recordings 1965-1967 (out November 17).
As with most records from that time, there are covers. The Daily Flash put their smart spins on oft-covered standards such as Tim Hardin's “If I Were a Carpenter” and Ma Rainey/Lena Arant's “C.C. Rider,” plus they do a rambling, loving rendition of Dylan's “Queen Jane Approximately.” “The French Girl” and “Barbara Flowers” deal in baroque pop à la the Left Banke vein while the 13-minute interpretation of Herbie Hancock's “Cantaloupe Island” offers a radical deviation into serpentine jazz rock, with vague similarities to the Butterfield Blues Band's epic mantra, “East-West.” “Jack of Diamonds” is a marauding, harmonica-fueled garage-rock classic with an obligatory rave-up section. No surprise that it's been enshrined by the Nuggets compilation series.
The collection's high point comes on “Violets of Dawn,” a magical, courtly love ballad written by Eric Anderson that the Daily Flash transformed into one of the most gently trippy tunes created by a '60s American band. It's one of those rare songs I can play on repeat for an hour and not exhaust its pleasures. Kudos to Guerssen getting this great Emerald City group's long-out-of-print music back in circulation.