During Covid-19 there’s been some incredible music made that without lockdown would never have happened; Brigitte Bardon’t’s Pink is one of those albums with bells on.
Okay, so there’s something about this album that made it personal; indulge me:
Back in the early 00s when leaving London for the West Country I met a lot of highly talented young musicians without the first clue about the industry they wanted to make it in. I tried to help.
One of the bands liked to call their genre ‘atmospheric black metal’
The only problem, they weren’t very atmospheric on account of the keyboardist never turning up for rehearsal. After a couple of months I still hadn’t met him.
The continual absence became an obstacle; the band wouldn’t move forward in any respect like a gig or demo without what they considered a major component of their sound even though it turned out they hadn’t actually heard it either.
Bless them. They might’ve all been big aggressive noisy lads, but their absolute loyalty to their always absent friend just because he’d excitedly said he was in on the day of the band’s ‘conception’ was an absolute treat.
I gave them two weeks for the keyboardist to get his shit together or they could either wait for him without me or drop the ‘atmospheric’ and get on with it.
And that, I thought, was the end of that.
Alas! A couple of weeks later I walked into their rehearsal space (an unused function room at the back of a pub) to see how they were getting on only to find them sitting on the chairs and furniture the pub stored at one end of the room; amongst them someone I didn’t recognise who was holding . . . a keyboard.
I say ‘keyboard’ it was actually a child’s toy. Full on, absolutely no doubt, blatantly for kids.
Here’s an ad for the type of thing I’m taking about (free (e)copy of my next book for anyone who can unravel the voice over at the end, btw).
This joker had to be seriously kidding.
What I wanted to do is neither here nor there. What I did was bite my tongue to see how things played out if left to their own devices.
This guy could talk; and talk and talk. The ideas he had for the band were boundless. Perhaps he thought his ongoing absence was justified by all the ‘strategising’ he’d apparently been doing.
“So . . .” I finally interrupted. “These ideas are all very well and good, but how about getting on with some actual rehearsing seeing as you’re all paying for the time?”
Everyone did as they were told. Except the keyboardist, who, still clutching his toy, took a seat next to me.
“Not being funny, mate,” I said, trying to sound as unfunny as possible. “But given all the practices you’ve missed, don’t you think you should be plugging in and getting on?”
“You’re the keyboardist – hence the keyboard, no?”
“Oh,” he replied, look of surprise. “No. This is just a toy I found on all the stuff piled up over there. I’m not in the band, just a mate who’s come down to listen.”
How we laughed!
However . . .
If he had been the keyboardist and I’d had the first clue a child’s toy could be used to produce that found on Brigitte Bardon’t’s Pink, I might’ve gone all stereotypical music industry by pulling him to one side and recommending ditching the rest of the band for a solo career.
Pink is an album made using one instrument; a children’s Barbie keyboard found discarded on the side of a Toronto road (an amazing story told in Brigitte Bardon’t’s own words below).
It conjures an idea of something that while fun, is kitschy and novelty nonetheless. When the truth is:
Barbie is a Kraut Rocker
Brigitte Bardon’t’s genre is musique concrète, which might be summarised as the manipulation and modification of existing sounds for the composition of new ones.
Meaning what’s being heard isn’t a straight-up case of what the keyboard can do, but what can happen when undergoing said process. Still, the keyboard is the only instrument (if a kid’s toy can be called that) used.
Pale Dogwood (track one) opens hauntingly. Within seconds I’m put in mind of one of the best tracks of all time, The Human League’s ‘Being Boiled’ from all the way back in ‘79. Pink has well and truly grabbed my attention.
After the opening walk down synth-pop memory lane, the album really takes me by surprise with constant fleeting reminders of numerous songs from different bands that all fall under the almost identical genres of kraut/psyche/space rock. In particular:
- Hawkwind’s ‘The Reason Is?’ from their self-titled first album (released 1970; one year before Lemmy joined)
- Mugstar’s ‘Labrador Hatchet’ and ‘She Ran Away With My Medicine’ both from …Sun, Broken…
Inspired to listen to the albums above after giving Pink a couple of plays, the similarity wasn’t quite as I might’ve liked to imagine. But something about the vibe is there—hints of Hedersleben, Electric Moon and Kikagaku Moyo being present too—on an album made with a discarded child’s toy not trying in the slightest to be any of the above, but just find itself in amongst its converse mix of limitation by design versus number of possibilities thanks to the process.
The kraut/psyche/space rock experience has been captured at its more ethereal points, albeit in a softer way.
Amaranth (track 2) has an eerie wind chime feel in a garden of overhanging plants, while somewhere in amongst it all a determined little man (by which I mean child) dressed as a soldier marches persistent and determined while biting his lip sternly against the fear of the giant wolf somewhere lurking from view, but responsible for all the gusts behind the chimes nonetheless.
Coral (track 3) is industrial/ritualistic. Dreamy while on the verge of something and more than content to be there. It slips away too fast.
Cherry Blossom (track 4) steps back into the garden, walks through it and into a orchard; relaxing soft light slips through leaves to warm the face.
Orchid ft Tasman Richardson (track 5) is the only collaboration on the album. Tasman (who also took all the photos, did the artwork design for Pink and mastered Orchid) was given a mere few minutes of samples, then took an even smaller four seconds of that to come up with the bass, beat and most of the melody found on this track (oh, and did I mention the kid’s toy all this is taken from?).
Tasman’s contribution brings a slight change in pace; more of a cyber-crime-thriller-hunting-the-villain-in-an-abandoned-warehouse kinda deal. While equally the overall feel remains with a sound I can only describe as drone-sitar.
Rose (track 6) is what I imagine a sense deprivation tank to be like for people who aren’t (like me) claustrophobic. Picked up and carried along on a fluffy audio cloud. There’s something deeply relaxing and therapeutic about this track; it sooths the mind, regulates breathing, energises.
Peony (track 7) conjures thoughts of incense, mediation, Buddhist temples; if I had to describe Pink in one word it would be tantra.
Lavender (track 8) is the last and longest track on the album. Brigitte hopes it will put you to sleep at night (see below). A nice sentiment for the finale that I don’t take too seriously until struggling to keep my eyes open through it even though it’s nowhere near bedtime.
In the Beginning
Jax only intended to write one song using the Barbie keyboard, then realised it had plenty more to give and was absolutely correct. Beyond Pink there are no further plans. On one hand, this makes the album even more magical (and it’s certainly that); while on the other I can’t help but imagine what future collaborations with, say, Nik Turner or the likes of White Hills could bring.
Plenty to dream of after listening to Lavender, at least.
My thanks to Kristel for the opportunity to review Pink; an honour and pleasure!
Brigitte Bardon’t/Kristel Jax can be found @
Industrial Coast can also be found @
- musique concrète
- The Human League: Being Boiled
- Hawkwind: The Reason Is?
- Mugstar: She Ran Away With My Medicine
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Thanks for reading 🙂
N. P. Ryan