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PoiL - Sus CD (album) cover

SUS

PoiL

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.16 | 7 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars PoiL took the extreme fringe of the avant-prog world by storm with the 2014 release "Brossaklitt" which under the more recently coined umbrella term "brutal prog" displayed the virtuosic angularity of avant-prog, the explosive bombast of punk rock, the mind melting expansion of psychedelia and the finesse of more deranged cauldrons of classical and jazz shaken n' stirred until a new elixir had formed. With a slight detour in 2018 with a collaborative effort with fellow French residents ni (emphatically in lowercase letters), the two bands released the avant-prog gem under the moniker PinioL however that was just a warm up for the next release of one of the more adventurous prog bands to have emerged in recent years.

Building on what came before, the power trio of Antoine Arnera (keyboards, vocals), Boris Cassone (bass, vocals) and Guilhem Meier (drums, vocals) return in 2019 with a suitable followup to their slightly unhinged and erratic masterpiece that came before. The succinctly titled SUS seems like a random placement of three Latin alphabet letters lined up to create a word that is the same in either direction read but it appears to be the Occitan word meaning "up, above, on, onto, over" since all the song titles themselves are in Occitan, the unofficial language of the southern region of France and parts of Spain, Italy and Monaco. BTW, the moniker PoiL itself means "skin" in French and it's apparent that it's because this music can indeed get under your skin. For some as an irritable parasite burrowing and sucking your blood or for others an injection of pure prog ecstasy.

With almost Cookie Monster-esque google eyes, the cover art wastes no time standing out amongst the music world even during these days where thousands of new releases hit the market seemingly daily but PoiL always has and apparently will continue to go above and beyond the call of duty in creating evocative and excessively idiosyncratic sounds and styles that evoke the zaniness of Zappa, the heavy hitting intensity of The Flying Luttenbachers, the wily electronic keyboard wizardry of, well i don't know! and the avant-prog angularity of the wild and weird world of Univers Zero, Art Zoyd and all the really out there bands. Melding this altogether SUS delivers another healthy dose of brutal prog NOT for the masses! SUS contains 5 tracks, 2 of which exceed 11 minutes ("Sus La Pera") and 14 ("Chin Fu") respectively with there three shorter tracks making up the creamy filling.

Despite the avant-weirdness run amok, PoiL succeeds in not producing a "Brossaklitt 2" and instead constructed a suitable followup that continues all the extremes while crafting a completely new methodology for throwing it all together. The results of which is yet another successful mastery of the most extreme elements of prog. "Sus La Pera" gently takes your hand into the turbulent sonic forces at work and nudges you along with enough melodic construct to keep you from running away screaming but chaos lurks beyond as the track develops and unleashes the monstrous progginess that churns out highly angular riffing prowess with guitars and keyboards duking it out for total domination. The bass and drums that provide the rhythm section often blur in the midst of the popcorn popper effect of ending. Oh yeah, PoiL is back!

After the rather chaotic closing sonic attack of the opener, "Lo Potz" attempts to calm the listener down with vocal chants that constitute the shortest track of just over a minute's run and "Luses Fadas" continues the monotones almost droning flow with the oscillating vocals spilling over with keys slowly building up the tension. Once established the vocal familiarity of "Brossaklitt" kicks in and the pulsating rhythms, off-kilter key / bass / drum counterpoints only jump into overdrive. These two tracks display the sudden affinity with the mixture of Occitan poetic polyphony, Renaissance classical types of constructs and keen sense of the unexpected. "Gre Martire" steps up the heaviness with brutal time signature lambasting, screeching distortion and more contemplations of what it would sound like if a monetary of chanting monks decided to all trip on LSD during choir practice.

One of the distinguishing features of SUS that separates it from the past PoiL offerings is that the tracks on SUS all flow together as the vocals and melodies connect them while other elements evolve into different variations. The grand finale "Chin Fu" continues the tripping monk chants but then develops into a bass laden groove with the keyboards getting all frisky and performing noisy antics that generates a free flowing jam for several minutes. About half way through it becomes just plain weird as it generates an avant-groove, hypnotic sound effects and ethereal atmospheric constructs before bursting into a bass and guitar heavy riffing pummelation which continues on for several minutes, adds more intensity and creates the most brutal aspects of prog allowed by law.

As good as SUS is, it does lack the variety and perfect flow of its predecessor. Something about "Brossaklitt" resonated perfectly to my ears as every element was laid out in its suitable place to usher in the next. SUS is much more chaotic and random feeling as the emphasis seems to be more on an improv and jam oriented bombast that takes lengthy grooves and riffs and augments their freakiness with as much weirdness as possible. The time signatures are off the chart on this one. If you seek a highly bombastic dose of brutal avant-prog look no further than PoiL's SUS. It delivers on all accounts and i admire that they created another completely unhinged wacky album that didn't just copy what came before but for my tastes, this one just doesn't meet the perfection of "Brossklitt." Will we have to wait another five years for the next album? I sure hope not. Even though this doesn't top the last album doesn't mean i don't love the heck out of it.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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