Review: Stinky Picnic – Minecraft

Stinky Picnic - MinecraftPonky Pie Pea (which is a pseudonym, I can only assume) was three years old when she became leader/singer/primary creative orchestrator of Stinky Picnic. Her own father completes the lineup, and together they build towers of bedroom psychedelia that wobble under the weight of mantric vocal looping, manipulated percussion and crudely distorted guitars. Minecraft is their eighth release since 2012. Compared to their earlier work it’s tighter, more melodically aware – at seven years of age, Pea now brings a conviction to her creative input that wasn’t as present in their self-titled debut, turning vocal sibilance into violent hurricane winds and growling in emulation of some of the more ghoulish characters from the Minecraft universe. Yet she hasn’t relinquished her knack for the playful and bizarre. The record drags me into the strangest of places: for example, the monolithic vocal throb of “Chickens” (which builds upon stacked repetitions of the phrase “I lay eggs, I am cute”) or the beautiful choral cascade that churns throughout the six minutes of “Waterfalls”.

I recently reviewed Jon Mueller’s wonderful A Magnetic Center, which took the process of looping to its most transcendent extremes; individual voices blurred out of distinction and eventually congealed into a tidal mass of vowel and pitch, moving in vague unison like inebriated fish, or swelling and contracting like a singular muscle. A similar technique is often used here. Pea allows her words to fall out of shape as each loop loosens the phonetic edges, gradually transforming into a hazy chorus of self. Much of the surrounding instrumentation (cradles of rubberised funk, coarse palm-muted distortion, clunky clean guitar) is provided by her father, who retains the modest bedroom aesthetic even as Pea’s vision threatens to burst through the ceiling and surrounding windows. It’s a strange and immersive piece of work.