Sound comes in all shapes and sizes. One man’s clamour is another man’s heaven. However, ascendant experimentalists The Big Pink describe their sonic output simply and blithely as “noise”, before going on to apply serious acoustic science to it.
The Big Pink – Dominoes
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The Big Pink is the sound clash between two life-long friends, Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell. Milo is the son of Denny Cordell, the talented producer who helped build Chris Blackwell’s Island Records empire. The second member Furze has toured with Alec Empire, formerly of Atari Teenage Riot, and the man credited with almost singularly inventing the genre of ‘digital hardcore’.
Robbie’s the brains whilst Milo is the heart. “Musically Robbie’s great cos he’s been on the road with Alec Empire for so long,” Milo reveals. “He’s one of his Alec’s prodigies – he’s learnt from the grandmaster of noise and he knows sonics brilliantly. He was telling me that they’d have hours and hours of long discussions on the process of noise, the emotion of noise and all this stuff, which only maybe ten people can really kind of know about noise-scape. And he’s one of those ten people. So, Robbie really adds a real musicianship and knowledge in what we’re actually doing.”
The Big Pink is best absorbed LOUD. Think walls of rock sound not far from My Bloody Valentine, but riddled with electronics – deep and acerbic synthesised sounds. The two lads’ unique symbiosis is based around the fact that Milo, despite his father being so involved in music, doesn’t play or read music in any learned fashion: “I’m the complete opposite, I know nothing. I don’t know how to play a musical instrument, never been in a band before, so I guess it’s complete musical naivety, which kind of counterbalances that. It just kind of works, like yin and yang; we basically balance each other out.”
The pair recorded and produced ‘A Brief History Of Love’ themselves mainly in London, but finished it off in the Electric Lady studios in New York, a recording room heavy with history after soaking up sessions by everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Queen.
Both the title and Milo suggests it’s an album about love and he’s keen to stress that it’s London’s soul and New York’s sheen that’s made it more distinctive. “It’s a city record. It’s a love story in a city cos we live in London, always have done. There’s a lot of concrete in there, a lot of bricks and mortar and glass and tarmac and that kind of thing, that’s the energy of it. When we went to New York it was again perfect cos of the strong energy, I think New York totally rubbed off. We produced it ourselves and there’s so much emotion in there. We do it together since we’re pretty much like one person, maybe a bit like the guy on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who has the brain living in his belly? We’re always pretty much feeling the same – there’s so much emotion in the noise and in the guitars and in the drums, they all come from the same place, and it’s really important that they never lose it.” Robbie and Milo saw their lives run close after attending lots of white noise parties and raves when they were teenagers.
Following about the band Atari Teenage Riot whilst seriously absorbing the back catalogue of Ambush Records via office block raves and traipsing around the North Circular illegal party circuit in London, they soon realised they could make their own mutant strain of distorted drum ‘n’ bass and gabba. Since then they’ve not looked back, yet have refined their noise into something altogether calmer and more measured. Their music is slow, it’s guitar led and it’s drone based – but just don’t call it shoegaze. “We’re not really into the shoegaze tag,” moans Milo. “I mean we like shoegaze, but I’m not sure what we call Big Pink. I think we’re on a path with a few bands and we’re just further on down the line. You can call it what you want I guess: I think it’s just rock and roll really.”
Rather than release it on Milo’s own Merok Records (home to The Teenagers, Titus Andronicus and The Klaxons), they opted for being cared for on 4AD, whose history is seeped in large intricate rock bands. Add to this genealogy the fact that his father was something of a recording legend and the pressure is mounting.
The sadly deceased spirits of both Milo’s brother and his father still walk with Milo every day, thus allowing this twenty-eight-year-old to be slightly philosophical about his music. “I reckon my Dad would probably love our music. But he wasn’t a grandmaster in how to operate a studio – he knew what he wanted, he knew what sounds… That’s what Robbie taught me: you don’t have to play musical instruments to make music, you can do it, if you’ve got an ear. He said, ‘I know you’ve got an ear, you just need to create noises. If you’ve got it on the inside it’s easy to put it on the outside too.’”
Words by Matthew Bennett