Zero Hour Records, 1997
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/13/1998
I have a rather bad habit when it comes to reviewing albums featuring the talents of Jud Ehrbar - I tend to put them to the side for far too long. When I do finally stumble across them in the Pierce Archives' several "in" baskets, I slap the discs in the player, then promptly kick myself hard for letting them go for as long as I have.
I found myself drop-kicking my butt across the halls again when I got around to listening to Ehrbar's one-man project Reservoir. Pink Machine features quite a bit of the pop found in Varnaline, the other band Ehrbar is a member of, but is more experimental - and that makes this disc one interesting, entertaining 40 minutes.
Don't let the almost two minutes of industrial noise to start off "Go Back" scare you away from the disc - it almost had me pushing the "advance track" button. Good thing I didn't, 'cause I would have missed an interesting amalgam of rhythms. Ehrbar's vocals and guitar work seems to be playing one melody, while the drums keep a slightly different, though crossing, beat. Normally this would result in an unlistenable cacophany, but Ehrbar pulls it off amazingly well.
Another amazing quality to Ehrbar is his vocals. Anders Parker may control the microphone with Varnaline, and does what he does well, but should he ever find himself fighting laryngitis, Ehrbar could easily fill in and make the transition seamless. "Let's Fall In Love Again" shows off a set of pipes tuned for pop success, but raised on the rough-and-tumble alternative world.
Undoubtedly the greatest feature of Pink Machine are the layers and layers of sonic excellence that make up the songs. "Air Coryell" is one example, with guitar, keyboards and drums all working overtime to create something similar to Phil Spector's legendary "Wall Of Sound" concept. Even the way the song fades out is unique, and should be listened to on headphones to appreciate it. First time I heard this track, I thought I had partially unplugged the jack from the CD player. Other tracks that stand out are "40," the title track and "Weight Of The World".
In fact, there is only one criticism that I could dare level against Pink Machine. Namely, it's far too short; Ehrbar knows how to craft songs that make 40 minutes seem like 40 seconds. The experimentation may occasionally confuse listeners used to a band blowing its musical load in three minutes and leaving. I suggest you grab a beer, pull up a chair and stay awhile - it's a journey worth taking.
Pink Machine is yet another example of a stellar release that may tend to be overlooked because it's on a smaller label - and is another album that screams for your attention, deserving every minute of it. Ehrbar may be a well-kept secret among music fans, but if he keeps pumping out work like this, he won't be a secret much longer.