“Frozen Flowers Curse The Day” is the title of a new album by Robert Poss released on his own label, Trace Elements, on August 3rd, 2018.
The name Robert Poss may not be readily familiar, but as a composer of guitar music, I have always held him to be a peer or equal to Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca.
He previously was the leader of the group, Band Of Susans, so-named because when the group first formed, they counted among their members three women with the first name Susan. The band was renowned for the dense wall of sound, featuring interlocking guitar parts, utilizing drone, feedback, noise, and frequency to dazzle with near orchestrated precision.
Sound recordist extraordinaire and front man of bands such as Big Black & Shellac, Steve Albini said that Robert Poss …”is an enormously underrated guitar theorist. A lot of his approaches to the density of guitar are completely overlooked in any discussion about guitar. The way he structures the song around the drone instead of finding a drone to fit into the song I think is wholly unique.”
This assessment holds true on this new album, which contains songs that Robert Poss created for modern dance companies with which he has worked for nearly a decade. The lead track “More Frozen Flowers,” is a beautiful piece of music, seemingly centered on a tape loop or dizzy inciting locked groove. With hints of acoustic guitar and keyboard flourishes buried in the mix.
“The Sixth sense betrayed” builds on a nice melody and would have easily have fitted in well on a Band Of Susans album. Listening to it for this review I hear layers of guitar and a purring guitar solo that makes me want to start the song over and over again, to ensure I did not miss anything.
On “Time Frames Marking Time” The main guitar figure that carries the melody seems to float, and one can well imagine modern dancers moving on stage as though they were characters in a Samuel Beckett play.
“I’ve got a secret list” is a restrained rocker, that again would have fit nicely on a Band Of Susans album. The main guitar figure cut loose and and held back in the same repeating riff. The repetition being the compelling nature and interest of this song, as well as for other songs on the album.
“Sketch 72” bangs out over what might well have a been a riff of a Rolling Stones song, complete with slide guitar and other bits of noise guitar. An instant classic.
The album concludes with the song “You’ll curse the day”. A song that starts with the main riff already engaged, and has layers of guitars that make it sound like a song that Robert Poss may have had laying around since 1986, when Band Of Susans initially formed.
It is a wonderful album, and should be of equal interest to the casual listener, and gearhead guitar mavens alike.
Noah Fence hosts It’s a Nice World To Visit – Punk, Post-Punk, Garage Rock, Psych…A mix of new tracks and old favorites. On Freeform Portland Radio.