Puce Mary – The Drought (PAN)

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Since she first emerged back in 2010 with early releases such as her ‘Lucia’ and ‘Piss Flowers’ EPs on Posh Isolation, Danish noise / performance artist Frederikke Hoffmeier (aka Puce Mary) has combined bleak yet enveloping noise scapes with spoken word elements dealing with themes ranging from gender and sexuality, though to anger and nihilistic disillusionment. Two years on from her preceding collection ‘The Spiral’, this sixth album ‘The Drought’ offers up her debut release on PAN, and sees her tracks taking on an increasingly cinematic and widescreen feel.

Hoffmeier herself has described ‘The Drought’ as “an intention to expand on the vocabulary of confrontational music and into a grander narrative defined by technical and emotional’ growth”, something that proves to be an apt description of the progression in her work on display here. Opening instrumental track ‘Dissolve’ throws the listener straight into the deep end as crunching sampled textures creep against poisoned sounding, queasily pitched atonal drones, before what sounds like a repeated sample of a turntable stylus being knocked off a record mid-play locks into a groove, the skips and scratches pitched down until they sound like the howling death throes of some fierce animal.

‘A Feast Before The Drought’ opens with the vast growl of digitally serrated sub-bass, before fluttery glitchy textures and echoing crashes begin to coalesce around eerily whining drones, the sense of impending doom calling to mind some particularly atonal horror movie score as howling distorted noise and abrasive scrapes gradually build into a vast wall of sound that barely masks the howl of sirens beneath.

Elsewhere, ‘To Possess Is To Be In Control’ sees Hoffmeier’s eerily impassive sounding spoken vocals (“if I could open your body and slip inside of your skin” giving an indication of the emotional tone here) floating against a gathering storm of ominous bass and sudden knife-like rips of distorted noise, before flecks of juddering bass begin to cycle between the speakers, the entire track bleeding into into sheering white noise as the rhythmic pulse slows like an arrhythmic heartbeat. More than anything else, ‘The Drought’ represents an ambitious wander out into increasingly cinematic territory for Hoffmeier, as well as one of Puce Mary’s strongest albums to date.

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A dastardly man with too much music and too little time on his hands