Saturday, January 28, 2006

Guided By Voices: Plantations Of Pale Pink (1996)

Plantations Of Pale Pink is a vinyl only EP which came out in 1996, so I'm guessing it is extremely hard to find now. However, like Tigerbomb, its contents are found on Demons And Painkillers from the Hardcore UFOs boxset. I am quite fond of this little EP, and usually listen to it by itself and not as a part of Demons and Painkillers. Though the songs themselves are not in any way spectacular, the EP as a whole is quite consistent, especially compared to similarly out-of-print EP Tigerbomb...

Systems Crash is a short fuzz-rock anthem, which I admit I did not quite like when first hearing it. However, the track has grown on me considerably. I now see it as a companion to My Valuable Hunting Knife, as both are similar musically. Catfood On The Earwig is a longer (over two minutes anyway) track which sounds like a few different songs tied together. Parts of the track are decent, but the disjointed feel to it put me off slightly.

The Who Vs. Porky Pig suffers a tad due to recording quality, but the straight out rock comes through loud and clear anyway. I'm sure there are fans of A Life In Finer Clothing, especially with the nice lead guitar at the end of the track. However, the song doesn't stand out for me at all and is the least interesting song on Plantations Of The Pale Pink.

The Worryin' Song is a minute of beautiful melody layered with sonic noise (like most of the more poorly recorded songs), and has also grown on me lately. The final track, Subtle Gear Shifting, contains the album title lyric and is epic at almost four minutes long. There is not very much variation in the four minutes, as the track follows a pulsing guitar rhythm throughout.

Plantations Of Pale Pink does not contain anything that could be considered a Guided By Voices hit in any way, yet it still manages to be a satisfying treat. Is it a reason in itself to buy the Hardcore UFOs boxset? Likely not, but it still manages to be a huge check in the plus column when weighing the decision to spend the 70 bucks.

Tracklisting (songs in bold make my ultimate GBV/Pollard playlist/boxset):
01 Systems Crash
02 Catfood On The Earwig
03 The Who Vs. Porky Pig
04 A Life In Finer Clothing
05 The Worryin' Song
06 Subtle Gear Shifting

Plantations Of Pale Pink at gbvdb


kurtis popp said...

I'm nuts about PoPP (so much so that I named myself after it)...I think it's a heady minor masterpiece. Perfect frazzled pop in Systems Crash, psycho prog in Catfood on the Earwig, dirtclod punk in The Who vs Porky Pig and chiming half-asleep sing-a-long bliss in A Life in Finer Clothing. It just revels in accidental genius, psycho wordplay and willfully flawed production that gbv are ubiquitous for, but even more off-kilter and just this side of lucid than usual. An acquired taste for some, but it hypnotized me right away.

The Rock Robot said...

Hi Kurtis - thanks for the comment. PoPP definately works best as a whole - a short shot of pure GBV genius. I only chose three of the six songs for the bestOf playlist, though I can easily admit that the three songs I left off only add to this great EP.

You wrote - "It just revels in accidental genius, psycho wordplay and willfully flawed production that gbv are ubiquitous for..." - what a perfect way to describe this album!

Anonymous said...

"Subtle Gear Shifting" is brilliant & hypnotic, very psychedelic. One of the last hurrahs for the GBV brand before they did the frontman power-pop tango and lost all that appealing eccentricity.

Anonymous said...

POPP definitely works as a whole but I rarely get a craving for it. A Life In Finer Clothing is the highlight for me; it would have fit in well on Not In My Airforce, and would have served that one better than a few of the solo songs. The Who Vs Porky Pig is great too. I wonder if they ever got around to re-recording Catfood? Here's hoping for Suitcase 5.