There’s a warm, comforting world that lives in Justin Pinkerton’s newest release Aak’ab. The modular sound here feels like a circuital blanket to warm us in these troubling times. When things seem so hopeless and we in turn feel helpless, the synth-based tracks that make up this record are a temporary reprieve from the madness just out the window.
Pinkerton is the drummer for psych band Golden Void, as well as the man behind the Italio-psych groove project Futuropaco. On Aak’ab Justin Pinkerton hunkers down in an analog bubble of calm and tranquility, easing burned-out psyches with bubbly synth structures and electronic warmth that carries us through nearly 40 minutes of circuital therapy. Over six tracks Pinkerton works the tones and square waves into a mantra for us to lock into and hopefully ease some of the negative space we’ve been occupying for the past few months.
While this is seriously meditative music, it’s not easy listening or new age by any means. Justin Pinkerton falls into the framework of cats like Terry Riley, Mort Garson, and Bobby Beausoleil. He uses the synthesizer as a tool to reach into the universe in a deeper way. A Rainbow In Curved Air comes to mind, as does Lucifer Rising, but Pinkerton’s work here is far more melodic. There’s an emotional connection involved. It’s not all spaced-out and cosmic. We remain right here, while still reaching into unknown territory.
“lx Chel” brings us into this fantastic world Pinkerton has created for us. All bubbly positivity and cosmic warmth, this track feels like warming yourself by a fire after the darkness of a cold dusk. “Chaac” puts me in mind of Wojciech Golczewski’s End of Transmission series of all-analog albums. There’s a simplicity here that pulls you in with it’s circuital beauty. “Kumulkan” works on its mysterious mood and pulsating rhythm. There’s a cinematic quality here that pulls you into this world so eloquently.
Aak’ab has a simplicity to it that allows you to lock in immediately, without being distracted by an “everything but the kitchen sink” overstuffed quality that so many synth-based albums tend to lean into. It’s symphonic in sound, but never feels over done. Even with Justin’s work in Futuropaco, while it feels filled out and dense it never feels like there’s too much happening. His deft compositional skills make for engaging songs that work with just enough detail and gravitas. Something like “Yum Cimil” or the gorgeous closer “Yumil Kaxob” in lesser hands may have gone overboard with sonic layers. But in Pinkerton’s hands it feels perfectly balanced with warmth, heart, and a nod to gazing into the great beyond.
I’m a sucker for synth heavy albums. I feel a kinship to the synthetic that bleeds into the organic. Jakob Skott’s Doppler and Jonas Munk’s Absorb Fabric Cascade are two other albums I’ve found great spiritual comfort and peace in. They’re perfect examples of man and machine locking in together to create something bigger than the materials used to create them.
I would put Justin Pinkerton’s Aak’ab up there as well.
Justin Pinkerton has curated a gorgeous and melancholy meditation between man and machine. There’s a kind of electric magic that occurs on this album. A healing beauty in these songs that I connect with on a deep level. Aak’ab is a record of depth and simplicity. A work of quiet magnitude that is greatly appreciated nowadays. At least by me, anyways.
8.6 out of 10
Aak’ab is available now via El Paraiso Records. Buy it here.