Pin Group: Ambivalence (Flying Nun)

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Pin Group: A Thousand Sins
Pin Group: Ambivalence (Flying Nun)

In his liner notes to this important reissue from Flying Nun, Bruce Russell makes the point that this collection has not only historical significance -- the Pin Group's Ambivalence was the first single on the fledgling Flying Nun label in '81 and ushered in a whole genre of underground New Zealand rock -- but that musically they exemplified a sound which still has resonance.

Their early drone-rock suggested they had shaved off a significant influence from Velvet Underground (as did many Nun bands) evident on the Ambivalence single, but that their sound had an almost physical breadth (despite the limitations of their technology).

From this distance however I suspect many would hear as much Joy Division in their emotionally cool and disembodied vocals, and you wonder what JD producer Martin Hannett might have done with them. They coulda been contenders, for sure.

But they didn't sit on that particular sound for long because -- as evidenced by the version of Ambivalence some 10 months later -- they had evolved it into a guitar-stuttering slice of jangle pop of the kind that the Bats and others would refine even further.

And what kind of Nun band was it that would undertake such a courageous and successful revision of a funky black act like War in their treatment of War's Low Rider?  

In that regard Pin Group traveled a long way in a short period and although their time was exceptionally brief -- just a year or so -- they also nodded towards a new kind of Southern Hemisphere psychedelic pop of the kind Russell compiled on the excellent Time to Go collection recently.

This was a taut not necessarily trippy sound of freewheeling guitars (which the Clean would take to the stratosphere) which expanded the genre of drone-pop and lo-fi Nun rock. And they did it all in under four minutes.

Yes, important and -- given it's modest origins from so long ago -- surprisingly relevant even now.

As Russell rightly observes, they "evaporated before anyone could get a hook into them".

This should get a hook into you however.

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