We live in an abundantly post-modern era, where networks, connections and rhizomes play a fundamental role. Where transversality is manifested at every level and the rigid distinction between genres has become a memory of the past. This, at least in the world of Art. Robert is a perfect example of this artistic attitude. Growing up in the 60s, widely exposed to the then unpublished, innovative, revolutionary musical and subcultural forms, it bones with Beatles, Kinks, Motown, the Rolling Stones and the first psychedelia, blues music, punk , and more experimental musical forms such as electronic music and minimalism. Influenced by the apprenticeship with Rhys Chatham in the early 1980s, and in general by the work of characters like Alvin Lucier, LaMonte Young, Nicolas Collins, he founded the Band Of Susans with Susan Stenger, conducting a parallel path to that of Sonic Youth and Glenn Branca. A pioneer of noise rock, he has always shown little interest in melody but a deep obsession with the texture and sounds’ architecture. Fascinated by the repetition and density of distortion, he has been able to play with interactions between timbres and generate subliminals, melodies and subliminal sounds, fighting against the standardization of the “drums-guitar-vocals-bass” that characterizes a large part of rock music.
Once the band was dissolved in 1995 Poss continued an intense solo activity (I remind you of his collaborations with Phil Niblock, Seth Josel and with Rhys Chatham) culminating in 2002 with the release of two solo records: “Distortion Is Truth” and “Crossing Casco Bay “. Two twin albums. Two sides of the same creative interface. Together, a sort of varied and structured musical autobiography. “Distortion Is Truth” has the advantage of having a fantastic title, which is coupled with “Confusion is Sex” by Sonic Youth.
A disc that makes renunciation of purity its strong point, a schizophrenic work that contrasts two sides of the same person. On the one hand, Poss gives himself to experimental guitar pieces (Brakhage, Radio Free Albermuth Revisited, and the blues of Memphis / Little Rock), to minimalism (Azulene) and to dissonant electronics (Henix Sambolo). On the other hand, Poss returns to the rock-band format with songs like You Were Relentless, Where Do Things Stand and That Same Dream Again, where he re-elaborates 40 years of blues-rock riffs.
“Crossing Casco Bay” is a different album. If “Distortion Is Truth” is an organic collection of 16 tracks, in “Crossing Casco Bay” we find “only” five tracks but longer and much more structured, in particular the song that gives the title to the record, a composition of 21 minutes that quotes the minimalism of Terry Riley and the ideas of Alvin Lucier.
And then Drift, an angular monolith from 18 minutes played for electronics, guitars, electric bass and double bass.
Poss is neither a prolific musician nor a fast musician. Eight years must pass because, in 2010, “Settings” was released, again for its independent label Trace Elements, which brings together Poss’s compositions designed specifically for contemporary dance shows. “Settings”is another very varied collection, but it also contains some of his most brilliant ideas:
Border Crossing March, in particular is a scary and thunderous ballet for androids and digital machines. Tourniquet Revisited’s complex looping and orchestration work is also very beautiful.
I said that Poss is not a prolific author. We had to wait another eight years to go back to listening to one of his new works with the title of “Frozen Flowers Curse the Day”. His fourth work and also his most mature is another heterogeneous collection, characterized by tracks that move between Band of Susans’ indipendent rock and his ambient drones tendencies.
The quantum leap, however, compared to the two CDs released in 2002, is truly remarkable. You would feel a greater awareness and artistic maturity and also a stronger calm and inner control, Poss in these years has made a remarkable quality leap and his compositions have benefited, they are more structured and at the same time more free, more personal . They represent himself 100%, adding ideas, aspirations, experiences, a truly unparalleled historical experience. Now we just have to wait. Somewhere in New York, Robert Poss continues to work and create new ideas and music.