AMN Reviews: PoiL – Sus (2019; Dur et Doux)

PoiL is what you would get if you mixed Etron Fou Leloublan, The Cardiacs, Miriodor, and a touch of Zappa into a French avant-prog chamber rock outfit with speed punk tendencies. Intrigued yet?

A trio, the group is consists of Antoine Arnera on keyboards, Boris Cassone on bass, and Guilhem Meier on drums, with all three members combining on multi-part vocals. Their hallmark style is jagged all-out and start-stop rhythms with crunchy bass and wigged out keys. Digging a little deeper, PoiL strings together a series of labyrinthine themes, moving from one to another before any wears out its welcome. Arnera trades off leads and rhythm roles, while the Cassone and Meier mostly stick to the latter. And just when Arnera’s leads are heading toward 70’s free-improv land, he reins them back in to join his bandmates in a more structured exercise.

What sets PoiL apart, however, are the vocals. Landing somewhere between Renaissance counterpoint, multi-vocal hard rock, and Eastern European prog stylings, they add a unique layer to the group’s efforts. In particular, the almost-catchy harmonizing on Luses Fadas is in stark contrast to the abrupt complexities that would have otherwise dominated that track.

Needless to say at this point, Sus is a stellar album that merges controlled chaos with the ethereal vocal wackiness. Even fans of the King Crimson and Ruins will be taken aback by the rhythmic sophistication at play here. A solid album of the year candidate.

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