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pin group-ambivalence lp+cd (flying nun)

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pin group: ambivalence

"The Pin Group’s short career was the perfect escape act—they produced a small but peerless body of work in adverse circumstances and in almost complete obscurity, and then evaporated before anyone could get a hook into them. A doubly impressive trick, when you consider that they also made the first record for Flying Nun, a label that was to define underground rock music for an entire generation. For many of us the thing that made The Pin Group so unforgettable was that their genius had existed right beneath our noses—and we’d missed them. “I can clearly remember hearing the black-on-black Ambivalence single when it came out in the midst of the 1981 Springbok Tour. I impatiently dismissed it as ‘too murky.’ It was not to be until early the following year that I heard the Go to Town EP... and then my mind split open. If ever I get my genie in a bottle I will be back in a flash to the Gladstone in December 1981 to see the five-piece Pin Group with Mary Heney covering ‘Lady Godiva’s Operation.’ For my money, that’s the absolute ne plus ultra of Velvet Underground cover-version match-ups. “A big part of their mysterious appeal—apart from their unparalleled understanding of the ultimate drone-rock magic trick of how to hold one chord just too long—was their masterly visual presentation. From that first blackest-ever single it was apparent that not only were they New Zealand’s ultimate VU-inspired band (a palm for which moreover the competition was unspeakably intense in those days)—but they even had their own Warhol, in the person of Ronnie van Hout. For that first delirious year he was a one-man design tsunami for Flying Nun, but it was his covers and posters for The Pin Group that represented his most perfectly-realized ‘total artwork.’ “A big part of my wanting to see Flying Nun get off the ground again in a new century was to get the chance to re-marry the sonics of The Pin Group with Ronnie’s ‘silver Factory’ visual vibe of Brillo boxes and black helicopters. And this is it: a legend that defies time. Now you too have the chance to experience The Pin Group’s irresistible blend of the puritanical with the libidinal—wrapped in a point-perfect distillation of proto-hipster psychedelic reference-points from the dawn of post-modernity. “They were right—our youth was soon past. But this endures.” —Bruce Russell, September 2011

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