I suppose some of you might see this album as “difficult music”, but I don’t see it like that at all, having a penchant for a feral racket or two, which this may well be, who knows? I just see it as in-yer-face-rock’n’roll for the synaptically altered.
Right, now I’ve scared off the faint-of-ears, let’s get started. Sus is the second album by French band Poil, who are based in Lyon. That fine city is where the Rhine and the Rhone make big lurve and much like the intertwining of those two mighty rivers, Poil’s music is a collision of styles and influences that is similarly turbulent and possibly, even tumescent. According to Urban Dictionary, “the French expression à poil refers to body hair – when you are à poil, you’re wearing nothing but your own hair.” An image I find that fits easily with these Gallic loons, although I’d imagine that they wear clothes on stage.
Using the words of 19th Century Provençal poets Théodore Aubanel and Max Rouquette, who were part of a cultural movement called the Félibre that among other things resurrected the Occitan languages, the track titles and the chanted lyrics, some in Gregorian fashion, are even more of a mystery to me than had they been in boring old French! A fittingly obscure start to a review of some deliberately obtuse music, don’t you think? And who says you never learn anything reading this nonsense?
The intent is there from the off. Sus la peìra jumps on you with an instant hit of Boris Cassone’s pounding bass guitar, in tight synch with Guilhem Meier’s powerful battering of the drum kit, topped with Antoine Arnera’s wailing synth, as the determined trio pin you to the wall as a fixed object for the target practice of this unrelenting feral noise. The sudden interlude of chant-like harmonies make for a welcome relief as the song turns down a medieval farm track populated by insectbots, who buzz around, and lead you to a place where even the grass has teeth.
PoiL describe themselves as an “ultra-speed superhero trio”, and now four albums into their existence, as “ostensibly calmer but forever closer to madness”. Sounds about right for these crazed times. The Zeuhl influence, though obvious, takes a distinct road of its own, the pared-down instrumentation pounding out a full and busy sound spectrum, broiling over polyrhythmic undercurrents. The three musicians are all masters of their roles, and following one particular instrument through a song provides a fascinating experience. The interplay at times can be frighteningly complex, often played at breakneck speed. The beginning of Grèu Martire leaves me breathless!
Undoubtedly there will be folk who find some or most of this unlistenable, but I find as I get older and madder, this kind of thing satisfies my innate desire for sonic exploration that the same old chords in different orders playing nice melodies will never fulfil. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tune as much as the next slightly deaf late middle aged bloke, but sometimes we all need a good shaking up. Sus by PoiL will more than suffice for now.
Right… I’m off to the Shoulder of Orion for a period of reflection. Until the next time…
01. Sus la peìra (11:58)
02. Lo potz (1:12)
03. Luses Fadas (7:07)
04. Grèu Martire (6:19)
05. Chin fòu (14:18)
Total Time – 40:54
Antoine Arnera – Keyboard, Vocals
Boris Cassone – Bass, Vocals
Guilhem Meier – Drums, Vocals
Record Label: Independent
Country Of Origin: France
Date of Release: 26th April 2019