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Ink | Reagent Specs (Monitor)
Some bands can take years to follow-up a debut album, many never even make it that far, Ink's second LP however was written and recorded in just one attempt, over a single weekend. Obviously it saves on studio expenses but this approach was mainly used by the band to help capture an immediacy and spontaneity that can be washed away by overly fussy preparation and production. Somewhat surprisingly, this technique actually does work on 'Reagent Specs', for while it's not always perfectly cohesive, it's always perfectly involving. Built around loose, freeform drumming and deeply dubby basslines, Baltimore's Ink at once have similarities to both Fugazi's taut guitar structures and the 90 Day Men's adventurous twist to that template, yet appear completely like neither. Theirs is an improvised, jazzy take on post-punk, once removed from Wire with the instantaneous engineering adding a cold, eerie edge to that sound and the distant vocals strangely reminiscent of a gagged Mark E Smith. Nagging and unhinged, Ink scribble real-time songs which hang in your head for far longer than they seemingly originally intended to.

Ian Fletcher
August 2002