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PoiL - Sus CD (album) cover





3.95 | 57 ratings

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4 stars PoiL is this off the wall RIO/Avant Prog band from France that was founded in 2005 The band was founded by Antoine Arnera (keyboards, voices), Boris Cassone (bass, voices), and Guihem Meier (drums, voices). "Sus" is the band's 4th album, released in April of 2019. The album consists of 5 tracks with a total run time of just short of 41 minutes.

"Sus la peira" starts things off with an obvious melodic element that actually stays down to earth for a few minutes before things quiet a bit and then odd layered vocals come in and things move to a definite art rock style, with ever-changing mood swings and meter shifts. Thematic elements come and go, and these are presented by all three band members, not just leaving it all up to the keyboards, but allowing the crazy bass to lead at times, and the drums also churn out mad rhythmic patterns When vocals come back the 2nd time, the vocalizations are kooky and then real chaotic punk attitude comes in with every instrument going wild, but still actually improvising around a single thematic element.

"Lo potz" is basically an acapella track with the three members singing in harmony, with some interesting intervals. This is quite short. "Luses Fades" follows and begins with a tense and warbling sound created by all three members including processed vocal sounds. Soon, the voices and the instruments start playing against each other, then the instruments are allowed to play on in a progressive and complex manner. Vocal harmonies return from time to time in their odd and humorous ways. At times things go quite chaotic and at others you get an avant-garde style jazz sound. Don't rely on things to stabilize for too long or even settle on a single texture or melody for any length of time, it's all just crazy, yet well thought out musical escapades. Even with no guitar, per se, the bass seems to create sounds that make you think there is a fourth member as he sometimes plays it like a regular electric guitar.

"Greu Martire" starts off quite dissonant and loud, immediately just immersing you in a harsh and abrasive musical collage that seems to have no melodical values except for a quick riff that keeps repeating. Things finally quiet down a bit as dissonant harmonies and contradicting melodic lines swirl around. Soon the harsh music starts again with only short interruptions, usually involving strange vocal harmonies. All of the tracks are inaccessible, but this one is the harshest of them all.

The last track "Chin fou" is the longest at over 14 minutes. An atmospheric drone takes you into a darker space, and chanting vocals that revolve around single harmonized notes keep things mysterious. Tempo speeds up a bit later as a start/stop instrumentation backs up more melodious vocals and these sounds clash quite effectively. After 2 minutes, things settle in to an improvised synth solo based around a middle Eastern dance style, but very staccato and jumping around in crazy intervals. This track actually takes on more of a melodic feel, especially in the vocal lines. Don't expect it to be accessible however, it's still quite quirky. Later, there is a strange sound that sounds like a singing cow, but the theme ascends for a while, then suddenly turns to a thick and heavy riff that drives the track in a direction that sounds like Primus on acid, except the synths are involved again. Even later on in the track, the band follows a strange chord progression that is led by repetitive notes from the keyboards, then we return to the quirkiness of it all again.

The overall sound of this album is quite harsh and brutal. It is definitely avant-prog and not meant to be accessible. The sound is quite relentless in it's inaccessibility, there isn't anything here you should expect to hear in the local grocery store anytime soon. The "words" in this music (and the titles) are in Occitan which is a regional dialect, an odd mixture of French, Spanish and Italian. The music is quite technical and brilliant, however, the one flaw that this album has can be in its heaviness. Just because it is avant-prog doesn't mean that it can't still have some softer sides. But that doesn't take away the fact that the music is still enjoyable and brilliant, just a little variety could have made it rise to the next level.

TCat | 4/5 |


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