• Hollow
  • The Hooded Mirror
  • Crack in the Light
  • Taenia Solium
  • Dora's Deliverance
  • Rats for Belmer
  • Flesh
  • They Hide Life
  • Ruin
  • A Hollow Margin Forgotten
  • Practice

This is the Unit Circle Debut from Atlanta-based Pineal Ventana. It was released in April of 1999. We’d been talking with Mitch and Clara for years. It took a while to figure out how we wanted to work together, but this is the fruit of that effort: a super kick-ass record. This album was recorded by Martin Bisi whose production and engineering credits include Sonic Youth, Material, and Michael Gira. Martin Bisi also produced their next album "Axes to Ice" which ended up being their final recording.

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Dark Velvet - Issue #3
The gorey packaging to this release reminds me of Rozz Williams'style album art--mutilated bodies, physical name it. The music too, reminds me of what Rozz might be doing as a side-project today if he were still among the living. And the song titles reveal all: "Flesh That Moves," Dora's Deliverance," "They Hide Life"--you get the idea here. Demented lyrics delivered by male and female vocals over a painful guitar/bass/drum sound. At times totally sane and at times it's like having a maniac loose in the house. A really neat release from a band that I've never heard of previous to this...and even though they are on the same label with Bethany Curve, they are NOTHING like them. See what happens when Nina Hagen (psycho-weird) meets Christian Death (gothic) meets Half Japanese (eclectic).
Fresh Cow Pie - Issue #4
Such a frustrating record for me to get into. The music is awesome intensely dark cinematic soundscape stuff ala Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor. The female singer presents a hurdle I just can't get over. She's too melodramatic, like she's trying to be Patti Smith and Diamanda Galas rolled into one. I'll keep playing it over and over though, because the music is just too damn good to let sit on my shelf.
C & D Services
Every so often a CD comes along for which your initial impressions, as a reviewer, are a combination of 'oh hell', 'why me', 'god, this is different' and 'how the hell am I going to review this?'Imagine My Bloody Valentine with a sax player, In The Nursery's rhythm section and Siouxsie of Banshees fame on occasional vocals. Actually, this has got traces of early Banshees in there, but it's a lot more dense, more post-rock and less punk. (in fact no punk). The compositions are thickly structured, oozing musical layers from every pore, with a tense, taut nature that sets the heart rate racing and the nerve-ends jangling, .or inhabits more haunting depths that are dark and stark, but then build up on waves of samples, tumbling, military-esque drums, distorto-guitars, layered vocals that are more hell than heaven but still blissful, whining backdrops and a type of music that threatens to fall apart at any minute. Occasionally they go into areas that are pure Banshees but so much more dense, strong and raging than Siouxie ever dared to g, as a massive, swarming set of music rises high into the airwaves. Very varied yet totally consistent, this is really new music that I just loved and is one of the finest new bands in this area that I have heard in a long time, totally different and ultimately refreshing and rewarding, a real blast in every sense of the word. - Andy G.
Your Flesh Quarterly - Issue #42

I had to look again and again at the CD cover and then visit the web site to verify that this is indeed a new release by a current band. I was thrown off by the sound of it, the look of it, the types of reverd, the type of playing. I thought I was listening to something from 1987.

Picture the era that included these bands (and their peers, who I can't remeber right now) at their most audacious: Mudwimmin, Tragic Mulatto, Hellcows, Butthole Surfers. The time when post-punk rock went tribal. (Or maybe the second time that happened.) Occasionally atonal, emotion-laden, super-intense female vocals, "scary," churning, searing guitar; a saxophone; keyboards; pounding drums. I had no idea there were any bands today making this type of music. Maybe it's an Atlanta thing. Confused sexual aggro angst. Centurions in bloody body paint marching across the empty lot that's full of broken televisions and dirty needles. Medievil medical dictionary illustrations come to life. I'm not saying I'm in love with this sound; I'm just trying to describe it. Need catharsis? Try this.

- Anne Eickelberg
Outburn Magazine - Issue #9
Atlanta, Georgia's Pineal Ventana unleash a fearless album of ferocious songs and anti-songs on their third full-length, and first release for art/avant-rock label Unit Circle. Malpractice is like a rabid musical circus, where nothing seems quite right, and Pineal Ventana are performing on the musical high wire without a net and don't seem to care. At times, Malpractice contains remote elements and attitudes that fondly remind me of Bauhaus, Swans and even the Velvet Underground. From the gutteral grunts and seething vocals of Clara Clamp to the ritualistic percussion of Mitchell F. and the disturbing sax of Shane Pringle, Pineal Ventana create a blood curdling, out of control, and undeniable album of power and perversion. Highlights include the eerie and off-kilter opening track "Hollow," the dark dirge of "The Hooded Mirror," and the ballad-like "Ruin." - rodent EK
Sorted Magazine, Music Dish, Flow Online
I want to see this band live. That's all I can say. Actually, that's not all I can say, but that's my first impression after listening to this disc. If the CD can convey this much energy and passion and leave me this absolutely breathless, their live shows must cause coronaries and epileptic fits on a regular basis. And that's exactly what I'm into right now-near-death experiences. Here's another thing I can say - it is so nice to get a CD in the mail with such an awesome physical presentation (artwork, disc title, band name, etc) and have them live up to my starry-eyed expectations. Too much of this stuff ends up being just noisy, monotonous heavy metal with stupid lyrics sung by greasy-haired, overweight men that secretly long to do high school all over again. "Malpractice," however, is loaded with awesome sax paired with an incredible rhythm and guitar section-imagine Lydia Lunch ("Teen-Age Jesus..." era) making an attempt to be musical along with the noise, without compromising any of the electricity. - Holly Day
Stomp And Stammer - May 1999
I do know that Pineal Ventana's brand new debut for Seattle's Unit Circle Rekkids is the best album by an Atlanta band I've heard all year. Menacing and sensuous, it accentuates the strengths of past recordings while stripping the self-indulgent fat. A damn impressive accomplishment! Best drums of any band in the city, hands down. But where are the Judas Priest covers? - Jeff Clark
Dead Angel - Issue #36

This is definitely a step up in every direction for Atlanta's weirdest band -- in terms of artwork, production, cohesiveness, everything. This is the first album on which the glandular ones actually sound like a band instead of a shrapnel-infested cyclone in progress. Not that there was anything wrong with that -- their sonic fury has always been most pleasing -- but it's nice for once to hear their ominious dirges o' doom articulated with a bit more precision and clarity. Some of the credit for the sudden step up in production values undoubtedly goes to Martin Bisi -- given his inolvement, i don't think the Swans-like feel of the drums on tracks like "The Hooded Mirror" are any accident -- but i suspect a lot of it is just simply due to the band finally having the chance to work in a proper studio after eons of fire-breathing live shows.

The album opens with "Hollow," a creepy dirge of bowed electric guitar squeals and moody stuff (more guitar drones? keyboards? who the hell knows?) lapping like the ocean in the background as Clara Clamp goes on about being washed away by the sea... which, from a sonic perspective, is a perfect intro to "The Hooded Mirror," basically a Swans-like snare beat repeated endlessly with psychotic intensity as the rest of the band builds on top of it. By the time the keyboards come in and Clara decides to weigh in with her quavering harpy vox, she sounds like the angel of death flying over a city collapsing block by block. "Crack in the Light (Crack in His Eye" fades in with their specialty -- loping tribal drums and Clara (heavily reverbed here) carrying on like a woman deep in the throes of psychosis or possession, followed by twisting reels of guitar distortion and at last thick waves of sound; "Taenia Solium" follows in a similar but even less restrained fashion, harking back to their earlier hurricane-delirium style.

But then comes the surprise -- the slow, brooding pulse of "Dora's Deliverance," like the blues gone tribal. Clara starts out in talk-talk mode, carrying on a conversation that's almost impossible to discern since she's mixed down below the music, but as it increases in intensity before drawing back like a snake and suddenly revving up to cyclone speed, she goes into full-tilt shriek mode, sounding most scary and flat-out demented. Oooo, the headless sno-cone girl approves! "Rats for Belmer" introduces weird found sounds into the atmosphere (along with another heavily repetitive beat) and mainly gets bonus points for the title, but "Flesh That Moves" is a most swell exercise in atmosphere that blends an obscure sample (i think) and washes of sound into a thick soup that gradually coalesces into an actual song of no small fury and impact. "They Hide Life" is mainly an exercise in scary drones (more of that bowed guitar at work) that leads into "Ruin," apparently the Pineal answer to goth, one that works much better than you'd expect for a band weaned on the runaway -train-on-fire aesthetic.The final track, "Practice," clearly demonstrates their newfound confidence in mixing the quiet and subtle with the loud and scary -- a twinkly keyboard motif is gradually joined by oscillator tones, squeaks and squawks, and other ominous noise, all serving as backing for a sample of a medical professional pontificating on the subject of medicine... but instead of going out in blinding waves of sonic terrorism, they allow it to fade back down and out. A suave move.

Needless to say, this comes highly recommended, particularly as an introduction to the band. Special mention should also be made of the power-packed graphics -- Unit Circle has a reputation for turning out nice-looking CD packages, but this is something else. Never ones to shy away from the concept of presenting the beauty in ugliness, the front of this CD must be seen to be believed....

QRD - Issue #15
The Ventanas have found a new engineer named Martin Bisi & it's caused their sound to change slightly, in one of those ways that you instinctively get mad about at first but grow to love with subsequent listens. After 5 years of pushing the envelope as an incredibly tight agressive/tribal/no-wave band they keep exploiting their talents better. This release has more violin & bowed guitar & songs like "Hollow" & "Crack in the Light" are some of the creepiest things not imported from Italy.
Improvijazzation Nation - Issue #37
Jaded (near) goth from this Atlanta group. This particular CD was sent by Unit Circle Rekkids, which is the release label. We’ve reviewed some material from Ventana before, but I don’t remember it having such heavy drone influences before. If you’re into that whole scene, this would prob’ly be an anthem for you, but to me it’s anathema in the immediate! Are they (any) good at what they do? You BET! Truly soundz’ like Lucifer’s legions, & I’m sure th’ local branch of chicken-blood slurpers will have these guitarz’ BLASTING while the maidens are being slain. Evil is plentiful enough without encouraging it. Sorry, kiddies, I just can’t get IN to it, though I’m sure there will be plenty on ‘ludes who will! Thumbs DOWN! - Rotcod Zzaj
Creative Loafing - April 1999

Atlanta's Pineal Ventana have always transcended categorization. Their sound amalgamates punk, improvisation, tribal rhythms and noise rock. But past releases, such as '97's Breath as You Might, had an experimental feel that few listeners could easily consume. There seemed to be six musicians performing individually, and not as a group. So, rehearsal and maturation have played an integral role in Pineal Ventana's blistering new release, Malpractice.

The industrial/noise outfit's sound has jelled with the help of NYC producer Martin Bisi. Bisi's impressive resume includes shared production work on recordings by Sonic Youth, John Zorn and Bill Laswell. What's laudable here is Bisi's ability to capture PV's caustic energy, and to create a corporeal representation of the group's powerful live dynamic.

Malpractice also unveils the evolving musicianship of percussionist Mitch Foy (ex-King Kill/ 33), vocalist Clara Clamp and bassist John Whitaker (ex-Damage Report). Foy brings the big industrial rhythms -- care of percussive instruments that include an eclectic array of car parts, even a gas tank -- which serve as backbone for most of Malpractice's songs. Clamp's versatile vocals range from haunting spoken word to ephemeral shrieks, while Whitaker holds the group together with his thick, reverb bass lines, perfectly syncopating along to the tribal rhythms. This triumvirate, along with Jason LaFarge (violin/guitar), Shane Pringle (sax) and Kim Chee (guitar/percussion), forms PV's first steady line-up since its beginnings in '93.

Malpractice is a rich, phantasmagoric album, which proves to be more and more cathartic upon each listen. As enigmatic as they may be, Pineal Ventana seem to improve with each new project.

- Jeremy Arieh