Nothing has ever been quite as on the nose as a Melvins record featuring the bassist from Butthole Surfers coming out on 4/20. The weirdos of the grunge movement are back again with Pinkus Abortion Technician, this time including two bass players. It’s just as weird as it sounds, and it scratches that itch for those who can’t go too long without their fixes.
This foray into the world of the low end isn’t new for the Melvins. 2016’s Basses Loaded featured a number of bass players, often employing two at a time. They certainly learned a lot for Pinkus Abortion Technician from the previous experiences. Both bassists Steven Shane McDonald and Jeff Pinkus are featured in the song mixes, but it can be difficult to determine exactly what the two are doing that requires such a formation. It’s not so much a problem with the two players as much as it is the instrument that’s being doubled up. Untold numbers of bands employ two guitar players, but the difference is that guitars are so prominent in the mix that it’s easy to identify why two guitars are used. Somebody’s playing a guitar solo while somebody else is playing a rhythm. Maybe one is playing some melody rhythm while the other is playing a harmony. Basses are often treated as the foundation of the melodic line, providing a structure for the rest of the song and band. It’s difficult to hear everything they’re doing even with the nicest of high-end headphones.
What makes this record special is that the basses combine to add a ton of depth to the songs. If you turn up the volume with some good headphones on, you can feel your brain rattling. On “Don’t Forget to Breathe,” there is a long instrumental section where King Buzzo is messing with some effects on a fairly basic riff while McDonald and Pinkus are filling up the rest of the musical track with some small trades from keeping the rhythm to improvisations. It gives the whole song an interesting spacey psychedelia feel to it. Throughout the record, you can hear the slight plays on the rhythm and melody lines. One bassist will be keeping the rhythm on the lower end while the other heads further up the neck for a bass lick or two. It’s a truly unique play for such a unique band.
Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of Melvins-style stoner rock weirdness. And it kicks off immediately with “Stop Moving to Florida.” It immediately kicks off with huge fuzzy guitar power chords from King Buzzo followed by the rest of the band for an atypical (for the Melvins) basic pop garage rock song. Then it suddenly breaks down with a very stereotypical redneck voice coming in to separate down-chugging sections from the band. Honestly, it’s the kind of thing you should expect from the Melvins, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Pinkus Abortion Technician is a great experiment for the more than 30-year-old band. It doesn’t necessarily break new ground for them, though you could certainly say it expands their sound a little bit. It just explores a new region for the band. They aren’t really doing anything new and different as much as they are thinking, “Hey, now we’re the Melvins with two bassists! Isn’t that neat?!?” If you’re a Melvins fan or you just like weird garage stoner rock that likes to experiment, come down to the low end.
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