Pineal Ventana is an unusual combo formed in 1993 in Atlanta (Georgia)
that plays rock music with the help of dissonance, samples, violins and
The center of gravity if Clara Clamp's singing, that borrows quite a bit from
the emphatically gothic delivery
of Siouxsie Sioux.
Shane Pringle uses the saxophone to produce long droning sounds that harmonize
with her voice. Mitch Foy beats on his drums like a madman: his tribal
percussions ignite most of the band's compositions with an almost sufi whirlwind
The guitar (Kim Chee) ends up being the least important of the instruments.
The self-produced EP Stagnancy Is Revolting (1994)
couples a relatively straightforward song,
with a long instrumental improvisational track,
The EP Philosopher's Stone (Half Baked, 1994) is slightly less
experimental. Philosopher's Stone, Cheese Of The Month Club,
Attack of the 50 ft Cannibal Clown are wildly eccentric, but not
The band sounds like a small orchestra on their first full-length,
Living Soil (Half Baked, 1995), highlighted by
a bold mixture of improvisation, saxophone, wild singing and electronics.
Dark madrigals like
Indica and Mark Of Zero alternate with
nightmarish litanies like Abre La Ventana and Ode To Tetsuo.
play a key role in Coming On.
Their gothic industrial noise-rock dissolves in the restrained folly of
Negate Of Want.
The animal wails of the saxophone and the pounding beats keep the music
always edgy and psychotic.
The 12" EP Let Them Fuck (Scuss Media, 1997) contains
Let Them Fuck and the lengthy The Screen (that goes from ambient
drones to Crash Worship tribal drumming).
Jason LaFarge on guitar and violin and John Whitaker on bass joined the ranks
in time for Breathe As You Might (Altered, 1997), a more song-oriented
work whose Waterlogged and Spindlewick are almost traditional.
Only three tracks are free improvisations.
The progression marked by that album and the following EP
Expel (Shoestring, 1998) peaks with
Malpractice (Unit Circle Rekkids, 1999), the least adventurous and
least disorienting of their albums.
The dirge-like ouverture, Hollow, is sung over weeping violin and
The distorted and psychedelic Crack In The Light, the
theatrical and dissonant Rats For Belmer feature intriguing combinations,
but they last too little to be qualified as avantgarde pieces.
Siouxsie towers over several of these ceremonies.
A martial beat, surf guitar and solemn saxophone accompany Clamp's
screaming in The Hooded Mirror,
but the tribal Taenia Solium and
A Hollow Margin Forgotten fail to improve on the original.
The sound is even denser and darker on
Axes to Ice (Unit Circle Rekkids, 2000).
The band has found its true voice in a deragend form of rock and roll that
leverages on tribal drums and the singer's wild persona.
Overall, the album is more emphatic than ever. Neurosis and adrenaline overflow
from the "danse macabre" of Breach Denial, that features
Sonic Youth-y guitar strumming,
tension-filled pauses a` la Type O Negative,
and a continuous quarrel between the male and female voices.
That emphatic exorcism drowns into Control's afflicted tale, a
Clamp's childish "la-la" surrendering to her mate's angry rapping, while the
music grows into a spasmodic, thunderous heavy-metal merry-go-round.
Loud guitar distortions and electronic shocks tear apart the song,
while Clamp metamorphoses into Bjork.
Pineal Ventana draws from Cop Shoot Cop and
Steel Pole Bath Tub to assemble songs as sonic puzzles.
The morbid rant of Divide borders on death metal, but is devastated by
drones of guitar and keyboards.
Whatever is happening to the playing and the singing,
the sound of tribal drums never lets go.
Drums permeate on Pineal Ventana's music like pipe organs rule over Catholic
The exception is the most ambitious track, the 12-minute
concrete suite One Held The Key, an experiment in sound collage,
a stream of mostly dissonant and often distorted events.
This album marks an impressive progress in all directions: a broader sonic
and stylistic palette, dynamic and dramatic staging of vocal duets, refined
arrangements, psychological depth.
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