Record Review: Kissing The Pink – What Noise DLX RM

Cherry Red ‎| UK | CD | 2018 | WCDMRED 723

Kissing The Pink: What Noise DLX RM UK CD [2018]

  1. The Other Side Of Heaven
  2. Captain Zero
  3. Victory Parade
  4. Greenham
  5. Each Day In Nine
  6. The Rain It Never Stops
  7. Radio On
  8. Martin
  9. Watching The Tears
  10. Footsteps
  11. Love & Money
  12. What Noise
  13. The Other Side Of Heaven (7″ Remix)
  14. Radio On (12″ Version)
  15. How Can I Live
  16. Katherine Clarke
  17. The Other Side Of Heaven (12″ Version)
  18. Celestial
  19. What Noise (Longer Version)

I’ve had the 12″ singles from this album since 2001, but the LP has been nothing that I could source by mail order from the USA. I can’t afford to drop international postage for a record unless it is something that is at the top of my want list, so this has been needling me for almost 20 years. Thankfully, our friends at Cherry red have dome the albums right as a perfect DLX RM CD, and my friend Mr. Ware sagely examined this blog before choosing birthday presents for me this year. If anyone would want to buy me a gift, all they have to do is search the “Want List” category and cross reference the “Music Purchases” tab on this blog. It couldn’t be much easier than that. Well… it could. I could have a “Buy Me This” tab [with helpful links] but that would be déclassé.

I first heard the band on their third album period of club/house dance tracks – “Certain Things Are Likely.” But they were really great dance tracks? I’m not the biggest fan of late 80s house music, but these tracks popped! I bought the CD in ’86 and all of the 12″ vinyl from the period. <FLASH FORWARD 18 YEARS> It was on my last trip to Toronto in 2001, that I hit stores there for vinyl as well as CDs [finally] and found the two 12″ singles from this album. I had never played them yet, but in 2004 I knuckled down and bought the US DLX RM of “Naked” the debut Kissing The Pink album. Sacre Bleu! What a brilliant album of technopop that was! It steeled my resolve to track down a copy of  “What Noise” on LP…except for that I never did. It would always cost me $30-40 after shipping. Now I own it and what’s it like?

“The Other Side Of Heaven” set the pace for the vibe of this surprising album. It served up lots of massively chorused vocals. There are almost no intimate vocals on this album. Everything is in fortissimo here. The arrangement of the track is appealingly left field but with enough of a hooky pop sensibility to form bonds with my brain. The band had obviously gotten a sampling keyboard by this time [1984] and they were using it in atypical, startling ways that sidestepped cliché. They seemed to have seen sampling as a path to an almost psychedelic sensibility.

The bold theatrical vocals of “Captain Zero” like most of the songs here, have the voices at the core of the arrangement. The music that was applied around the voices seems to be pop dance in style until you examine it closely, and then it all runs off before you can apply a magnifying glass to it. Any five seconds of this song is like nothing else happening out there in the world of 1984. By the time of “Victory Parade,” the listener may be thinking they had never heard music a chaotic as this before.

Then the acoustic jazz of “Greenham” pops up and I find that any bearings I had for this album have been lost in the fog. The song was a look at the women of the Greenham Common anti-nuclear protest and it eventually came around to form a suitably anthemic and rousing noise. This one certainly reflected the anarcho-political leanings of the members at the time and fortunately, though this song was written just three years into the 19 year protest campaign, the ladies reached their objective.

“Each Day In Nine” was a haunting cocktail of fretless bass, sax, beatbox, droning synths, and uneasy crooning. I could hear DNA from “The Rain It Never Stops” that made it to the wonderful “One Step” on the subsequent album, but here it was a sampledelic blend of afro psychedelic jazz piled thickly onto the master tape. Did I say that this sounded like nothing in 1984? It sounds like nothing else period.

The other single “Radio On” again heightened the layers of samples used to ridiculous psychedelic levels. It almost threatened to fly apart on its own levels of audacious complexity. This was a band using sampling for its jarring distancing effects; not to grab hooks from infinitely better records that had come prior. The almost random jabs of hooks embedded in the song come close to taking to into late period JAPAN territory [rhythmically] as if they were trying to write a club track and had failed. I can imagine Magnet Records execs having a cat when they heard this one. Yet it became a single, against all odds.

The echo-drenched technopop of “Watching The Tears” referenced paisley era chamber pop that reminds me of something else that I just can’t put my finger on right now… but it will come to me eventually, I’m sure. I can’t shake the notion that this might have been one of the closest things to single material on this quixotic album. It’s still intriguingly odd, however. The pop present in this album seems to have been run through a drug-drenched dub sensibility.

The last three tracks on the album sound like anxiety attacks rendered into musical form. The free wheeling sax was at odds with the tremulous vocal, but that was nothing next to the psychotic “Love + Money” is like being inside the head of a mentally ill person. It’s hard to believe that a track like this one ever got out as anything but a B-side. It’s a man’s ID ranting about his desire for love and money, distortedly, over a tribal beat, with massed, chanted chorus vocals. Phew! The merely disjointed and chaotic title track came as a relief in comparison.

Being from 1984, the 12″ versions and remixes were not dramatically different from the LP mixes, but “Celestial” bears mentioning as a radical, almost a cappella version of “The Other Side of heaven” as sung by, you guessed it, massed choral vocals. The African beat and dreamy soprano sax on “How Can I Live” was the only song here as sung by their female member, Josephine Wells. “Catherine Clark” resembled Monty Python’s version of Gumby Punk Rock! All guitars bass and drums for this normally besotted with technology band.

This one was a strange one. Not as breathlessly magnificent as the debut nor as sleek and club ready as the third album. But it was deeply unique. As I stated up front, I’ve never heard an album as queer as this one was, and kudos to the band for getting a sampler and doing weird things with it instead of following the pack. It’s like listening to early Shriekback B-sides with all of the commercial points of references [if they had them to begin with] stripped from the tracks with the whole thing run through an emulator. I really must get the rest of this band’s output! Their 1994 “Sugarland” album was in fact named for the Texas city and I’m sure there’s a fascinating story behind that one.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

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7 Responses to Record Review: Kissing The Pink – What Noise DLX RM

  1. negative1ne says:

    i have a ton of KTP, which was formerly kissing the pink.
    good choice for the review, and a good album.

    i too, got into them from the 3rd album. and have all
    the singles, multiple releases, remixes, and exclusive
    promos from it. more on that later.

    i do have sugarland, and yes, they moved down
    to texas to record it, and it has tons of references
    to many local places, people and events in it.
    only people from here would know what they mean.

    also, i have all the 12 inches and 7 inches from this
    album, including picture discs etc. but the one
    interesting one to me is this:

    Kissing The Pink ‎– The Other Side Of Heaven
    Magnet (2) ‎– 12 KTP 7
    Vinyl, 12″, 45 RPM
    Tracklist Show Credits
    A1 The Other Side Of Heaven 6:08
    A2 What Noise 5:50
    B1 The Other Side Of Heaven (Computer Program) 6:21
    B2 Celestial 4:08

    Track B1 is a program for the BBC Model B micro-computer. To run the program, it must be recorded onto audio cassette and then loaded from the cassette to the computer. The program is a video to accompany track A1.

    Someone has transferred the video of the computer program running,
    and put it up on ewwwtube, if you care to watch it. pretty cool.

    KTP is still making music, and had 2 digital albums in 2015,
    and plans to tour eventually. They can be found on bandcamp.

    One thing about this band, is all their albums are unique, and strange
    and weird, and yes even ‘certain things are likely’, has a lot of cool
    b-sides, and weird tracks. Thats what i love about this band.

    very underrated, and unappreciated. i’m glad someones doing
    deluxe reissues of their material, or it would all just be lost
    and swept aside.



  2. Vlad says:

    No matter what I do I just can’t “get” this album! After the marvellous debut this was a bit of a shock – I cannot understand what made them change sound and direction so much. Like all the elements are here but juggled so much it’s hardly the same. Maybe I’ll appreciate it some day in the future – but it didn’t happen yet.

    It was a burden of so many New Wave bands – like they thought they must keep evolving, no matter how successful (artistically or ommercially) the previous formula proved to be. I like KTP but just don’t think in this case they evolved successfully.


  3. SimonH says:

    Very true re new wave, many bands just wouldn’t stand still. Quite different now.


  4. kim says:

    that was a great review! have you heard the demos of this material? (i can share, if not). they were definitely a band committed to psychedelic experimentation, continuing through sugarland and even their latest material available on bandcamp.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. drivel says:

    The fact that Magnet Records didn’t ever bother to release ‘What Noise’ in the U.K. displays their lack of faith in Kissing the Pink at the time. I only found out about the album twenty years after its release, but I rank it up there with ‘Naked’ and ‘Certain Things are Likely’.

    Per you comments about “Watching the Tears”, it always reminded me of the Psychedelic Furs -“Pretty in Pink”.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      drivel – As far as I know there was a UK pressing of the album. There was UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Italy that got the nod from Magnet. I own the Canadian 12″ singles from it. But it was the US that got short shrift, unsurprisingly. Magnet was a 2nd tier UK indie label propped up by Chria Rea and thus tread carefully in their dealings.


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