If you’re looking for normality, this is not the place to come. When I read that inspiration came from “Stockhausen Stimmung on a mushroom trip”, I knew it was game on.
“Sus” is a lot of bizarre sounds, fundamentally. The obscure sound is such that we’re constantly in a dream world, and not a nice world at that. Discomfort is the norm. The first track, the 12 minute “Sus la Peira” is led by a synth but not in any song sense. The synth leads the sonoric chaos. At times there is a baroque style. There are underlying vocals that sound like gibberish but apparently it’s Occitan and Provencal poetry, of which I know nothing. It ends more chaotically than it began but all in all, it’s a mess. I imagine this is something that John Peel might have unearthed, or would have featured on “The Old Grey Whistle Test”. After a short chant, this weird arty world resumes with “Luses Fades”. Again the sounds have no meaning in themselves but in their jazzy way create a murky picture. The vocals are described in the blurb as “buccal filtered”. Well, they sound like whispered or soft tone barber shop Mediterranean style chants. Or “Occitan polyphony”. The keyboards go about their eccentric way. This does have energy, but I was left baffled. My bafflement didn’t improve on listening to “Grèu Martire”, another avant-garde kaleidoscope of faintly jazzy sounds coming from all directions without rhyme or reason. I can only imagine their shows have “Madmen at Work” warning signs. Of course whilst this has no structure in any traditional way, it must mean something to somebody. Unfortunately I am not that somebody. “Grèu Martire” ends as meaninglessly as it began, leading to the 14 minute “Chin Fóu”. This is another weird and not so wonderful journey. At one point I had an aural picture of the Clangers, but then I was getting a vision of everything. The Occitan polyphonic choir features towards the start, before it goes off on its more and more obscure path, and at the end. If I were relate the instrumental output of “Chin Fóu” to anything, it would be a kind of cosmic jazz prog, and I even aligned it in my head to a tortured version of Haken not for the first time on this strange album.
“Sus” is as experimental as it gets. I give the band full credit for originality and creativity. I did find the album interesting but whilst I understand that different types of music generate different sensations, I found myself on a completely different wavelength from PoiL and never getting closer. I couldn’t say it’s 40 minutes wasted listening to “Sus”, but even looking at it from the highest intellectual I can muster, I simply can’t take anything away from listening to it other than possibly a headache.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)