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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Robert Poss
Distortion is Truth / Crossing Casco Bay
Trace Elements

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Robert Poss has a funny relationship with his guitars. He seems to love and hate them at the same time. One minute, he is coddling them, letting the most serene and pacific sounds flow forth. The next, he seems to be filled with rage towards them, strangling and abusing them to make them emit pained and percussive sounds. Maybe that is what happens after spending so long with guitars, not just playing them and experimenting with them, but thinking and dreaming about them. Poss had his most prominent moment playing with NYC's Band of Susans from 1986-1995, releasing several albums. They were contemporaries of much of the art/noise/experimental sounds coming out of the city during that period, such as Sonic Youth's endeavors into sound mayhem. Poss is back now with two releases, one a proper album (Distortion is Truth) and the other a companion piece that stretches out for almost 50 minutes (Crossing Casco Bay).

Poss' guitar work on these releases shoots into and beyond the avant-garde, but with a constant sense of melody and structure that is surprising for such work. For every ambient excursion, like the atmospheric opener, "Brakhage" (it's name taken from the avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage and described by Poss as being about "brain movies"), the scraped noise "Radio Free Albemuth Revisited" (inspired by Phillip K. Dick) or the drone filled "That Same Dream Again," there are moments of pop and post-punk passion. In fact, as far out in space as Poss launches his songs, there is something of an early 80's feel to them, like a warmer P.I.L. without vocals or if Lee Ranaldo-fronted Joy Division. "Improvised Duo (Live at The Cooler with Tom Kelley)" is caustic rock and roll, guitar solos blazing like a freed up Tom Verlaine, "You Were Relentless" rubs its nose up against conventional rock with its pounding drums and distorted vocals and "Memphis/Little Rock" sounds like the soundtrack to a delta techocracy in the year 2276. Poss' working philosophy here is that distortion is "the cake, not the frosting" as noted on the press release, and he certainly bakes a dense pound cake of feedback and sustained notes. And hey, Steve Albini is a fan.

The companion disc, Crossing Casco Bay, is a satellite that is launched much farther into space. The opening and title track consists of 20 minutes of wavering electro drone that phases in and out through your eardrums. Poss states that the idea here is to emulate "the strange dronal resonances and watery sonorities of a small outboard motor powering a half dory off the coast of Maine." You get the idea when you listen to this. The next track is a subtler version of the first. "Drift" is toned down dronage with bowed strings floating through the background. There is an environmental recording of roosters crowing and insects humming called "Daybreak in Hanga Roa" and a track based on music for a Volkswagon commercial that Poss put together with electronic artist Ben Neill. The last track, "Throne of Blood (Reprise)" is the most rock-oriented song on this disc, but just barely.

Robert Poss has made some surprisingly listenable music of the most avant variety. This is highly innovative and highly melodic music for the experimental set. This is art, this is noise, this is feedback, this is blowing apart conventions, this is damn good songwriting. The guitar love affair continues and things just seem to be heating up.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker

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