Record Review - 3 October 21 2004

Considering the multitude of bands that San Diego's Rob Crow and Armistead Burwell Smith IV (Zach) have had a hand in, it would be safe to assume that they have established a signature sound. The duo's resumes include stints in Thingy and Heavy Vegetable, and 3 Mile Pilot and Systems Officer, respectively, and over time, the two musicians have developed a formula involving overlapping melodic guitars, nimble bass chords, hushed vocal harmonies, and syncopated drums. Nowhere is that precision more apparent than in the duo's definitive project, Pinback.

Serving as a hub for a variety of musicians — in this case Kenseth Thibideau, Cameron Jones and Ryan Bromley — Crow and Smith orchestrate pointillist ensembles. Each note is a viscous globule greasing the gears for the next subtle yet passionate paean to come.

Despite the sinister history behind "Abaddon" — a Hebrew word for a destructive hell (and as easily a play on abandon) — Pinback's third full-length is the duo's most assured and plotted. Not a single note seems to ring superfluously. Acoustic guitar, electric piano, drums played with mechanized exactitude and angular shifts of gear overlie in dusky cascades. Pinback's patchwork of sparring loops has never shown more refined texture with as tight a seam.

-- Tony Ware

Pinback plays Vinyl Wed., Oct. 27, 8 p.m. $14.