Leeds quartet, Pornographic Sunset, pride themselves on being impervious to categorisation. You’ll hear elements of Frank Zappa and Primus in their music, but you’re still stroking your chin once it ends. As the second in a four-part series of EPs, Gold; Flesh; Dirt explores the fragility of the human ego and has a riotous time in the process. This is avant-garde art with a sense of humour.
Like their debut EP, the latest Pornographic Sunset record comes with a three-track release on all digital platforms and a four-track version distributed on a unique USB if you attend one of their live shows. Opener, ‘Self in Solution’, starts with a grungy pitch of feedback held together by a bass beat and psychedelic vocals that’ll remind you of Geordie weirdos, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs in the way vocalist Daniel B sounds like he’s imitating a sinister cult leader under the spell of hypnosis. The open hi-hat drum groove leads you into a false sense of security just when your shoulders are finding the rhythm insatiable. Where did the lime-dancing banjo come from at 01:05 seconds? Exasperated, you’re still frowning when the guitarist brings us back to planet progressive rock with a monstrous crash of distorted noise. Think Primus covering Failure, and you’re still nowhere near.
Standout track, ‘Session with Dr Michaelson’, is the best noise rock/funk fusion song you’ll hear in 2021 (and probably the only one). Roger M’s bass popping technique is straight out of a 1970s Kung Fu flick, but the guitars are heavier and more discordant in their approach. Again, the smooth open hi-hat leads the way, yet a part of you wonders if they’ll sabotage the groove with a vicious burst of amplified noise. You’re prepared for when it arrives at 02:30 seconds, but it’s no less thrilling. Here, Captain Beefheart meets Sonic Youth through the distinct prism of a Yorkshire narrative. What could be more compelling than this?
The only reservation you might have about the music is the unintentional nod to Kasabian. Maybe it’s the snarl of the vocals or even the aesthetic. Fortunately, the dissonant funk groove of ‘Diabolical’ is way beyond the capabilities of the Leicester indie quartet and more in tune with the dynamics of Killing Joke’s legendary song, ‘The Pandys are Coming’. If this doesn’t get your foot tapping under the table, nothing will. Ween are a better comparison after repeat listens, although the band cite Mr Bungle as a reference point for their music. It’s a challenging song disguised as a jazz funk throwback with a self-deprecating snigger. Those that find it pretentious need to lighten up. The funky guitar and bass interplay are worthy of Red Hot Chilli Peppers in the early 1990s era of John Frusciante.
As a band with many identities and personalities, Pornographic Sunset are like King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard. They could change costume on their next release, but which one they wear on EP number three is part of the excitement. Gold; Flesh; Dirt ensures their unpredictability is their greatest asset, but might it also come to define them and create impossible expectations of constant reinvention? It’s a journey we’ll be watching with great curiosity.
Release Date: 10/12/2021
Record Label: Indecent Nightfall
Standout track: Session with Dr Michaelson
Suggested Further Listening: Primus – Tales from the Punchbowl (1995), Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs – Viscerals (2020), Killing Joke – Revelations (1982)