Just who is Suzie and why is her world strange? Plenty of questions to answer here. Well apparently she is the creation of author Ian Miller whose work has stretched to book, art, graphic novels and films. She is a dark gothic character and “a feisty survivor in a ruined world.” I guess you can get an image of this even if like me, you have not read about her and you don’t necessarily need to have done so to enjoy her transition into the musical realm. Similarly you may not have a clue who Transmaniacon are either unless perhaps you are a Blue Oyster Cult fan, a song by them this lot took their name from. More images should fill your head on learning that they “are a Heavy Progressive Rock band for the 21st Century Schizoid People of the Blue Planet”. Ok so we put these two aspects together and lo and behold we have an album with a concept and music that should certainly be interesting at the very least. We also get some guests on the album (who you may actually be more familiar with) and we shall get to them in due course.
Possibly to put this all in some semblance of order someone is needed to tell a story and narrate the part of our hero Suzie. This is left in capable hands on first track Inca Sunshine as she is narratively brought to life by none other than Lydia Lunch whose husky spoken drawl should be familiar to many a listener. The smoky voice suits a survivor of an irradiated wasteland in this post-apocalyptic setting neatly. Some would say Lydia Lunch is a true survivor herself and the musician, vocalist, actor and speaker has certainly weathered the storm of life. The musical canvas is suitably spacey, Hawkwind keys, percussive slow bombast and subtly clamouring melody accompanying the story as it unfolds. You can follow or just listen to that and even if the story is new anyone should have an understanding of the genre it comes from and find it easy enough to follow on both levels. Things expand by second act ‘Painted On Skin’ and we move onto songs with a younger Suzie expressed by Cold In berlin singer Maya. Lydia is still on hand to fill in the gaps but Maya takes things to another level and for me fits in perfectly and naturally to her parts. As things progress it also gives her scope to move away from the structures of her day job and allow a real post punk flavour to tinge things. Melody on this number actually reminds a bit of Duran Duran hit Girls On Film at first and is accompanied by some great keyboard work giving it a real retro-futurist vibe. Apparently we have an Uncle Acid member on drums and the keys themselves could have easily escaped from them on a proggy mission. Maya whoops and clamours giving a real performance that could easily translate this music to the stage. Luckily there is no male accompaniment and it is just left to the ladies, if that particular route had been gone down this could have strayed dangerously close to a dreadful “rock opera” format. On the whole though I am picking out all sorts through the gaps here, especially vocally where we get bits and pieces reminiscent of everyone from Lene Lovich to Hazel O’Connor through to Rubella Ballet and even Penetration’s Pauline Murray.
With the organ keys peeling away like something by The Who, songs such as ‘Tooled Up’ give you a suitable bosh round the head and prove compulsive earworms. The flamboyance and theatrical airs and graces shine through and this could appeal to anyone who likes everything from a good old Alice Cooper gig to a carnival ride with The Circus Of Horrors. At 41 minutes in length it’s all pretty accessible without being too pompous and over theatrical, broken up with excerpts from Lunch the music occasionally slows allowing you to soak up the story and the main songs themselves are all really enjoyable. This could be looked at as a bit of a performance art idea which easily could have fallen flat on its face but if you want to immerse yourself in a story or simply rock out you should have an easy enough ride with this strange world and whether it be a one off excursion or the start of something that’s going to be expanded on Suzie’s World is one well worth venturing into.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)