Puce Mary – The Spiral LP Posh Isolation 2016
Two years on from the excellent album ‘Persona’ (reviewed here), Frederikke Hoffmeier has returned with the ‘The Spiral’ which not only meets, but absolutely exceeds all pre-conceived expectations. Without doubt Frederikke has employed focused determination in refining her craft over the last couple of years, which is a work ethic that has served her well. This includes a meticulous attention to detail in the studio, but also balanced by proving her technical prowess as a performer on stage. Interesting I am yet to hear any dissenting voices of the underground in potentially ‘denouncing’ Puce Mary as a relative newcomer, which is all the more impressive given that avoiding such criticism within the post-industrial underground is no easy feat (…and by virtue of its absence functions to closes the loop on the impression that Puce Mary is something special).
Upon listening to ‘The Spiral’ for the first time, selected tracks are immediately recognizable from her live performance at Tower Transmissions V in September 2015 (reviewed here), which again demonstrates Frederikke’s abilities to replicate her sound faithfully between the studio and stage. As such a range of styles and moods are to be found on the album: from brooding industrial noisescapes, to harsher power electronics barrages, whilst also drawing upon elements of noise and ambient for good measure. With lyrics printed on the inner sleeve it is pleasing to see the lyrical content is equally poetic as it is impressionistic and avoids any clichés of the genres covered. The cover is also visually apt in its abstracted tension and implied eroticism which skews the more typical visuals of the industrial genre.
The title track opens the album, and is a slow burning and building piece (depth sounder radar blips, brooding bass rumble, sparse ‘Penderecki’ like orchestral noise and stilted percussive thump), which ramps up in tensile fashion. ‘Night is a Trap II’ follows and sees Frederikke in full flight, based on forceful oil barrel type percussion, driving drones, shrieking noise and shrill, distortion processed vocals (…truly sublime in its aggressive urgency). The instrumental piece ‘The Temptation to Exist’ draws more heavily on industrial dark ambient styles soundscape, with fizzing static providing a sharper edge, while the final track for Side A ‘Enter Into Them’ delivers an experimental industrial soundscape (…prepared piano?, microtonal contact mic sound layers, chimes, minimalist percussive structures and dour spoken vocals).
‘Mask Are Aids II’ opens Side B and strives again for power electronics aggression through piecing high pitched noise, driving drones and heavily layered stilted industrial percussive elements, with the harsh vocals are partially buried in the mix. ‘The Actor’ is another album highlight again demonstrating the prowess of Frederikke to produce pounding industrial soundscapes which are infused with psychological tension and upwardly spiralling urgency. ‘No Memory’ then provides slight respite with an experimental spoken word soundscape, consisting of treated field recordings, plodding bass, droning organ textures, all underscored by a straightforward programmed beat (..for sure a divergent element for Puce Mary). ‘Slow Agony Of A Dying Orgasm’ rounds out the 8 track album, with a track which covers all sounds and approaches displayed on album within the guise of a single song. Commencing with tensile ambient soundscape; moving through stilled/ tensile industrial structures; and building to its conclusion framed around a pounding/ squalling/ aggression charged power electronics barrage, it is beyond fantastic.
If Puce Mary is still at the point only know by name alone, this is absolutely your loss (…and a mighty large one at that). ‘The Spiral’ is an album which has skilfully built upon and refined sound and approach from earlier releases to deliver an album which is a contender for being declared a modern classic. Given this is no small prediction to make, it has not been made lightly, yet more importantly ‘The Spiral’ is an album which in no uncertain terms should be let to pass by unheard. Without a shadow of doubt, a mandatory recommendation for 2016.