A Pilgrimage into the Weird
Poemss’ synthetic snare drums echo and vibrate around in your skull like a bad memory. A child’s first xylophone, or perhaps a music box, haunts the album. When the thunderous bass and ominous lyrics mix just right, you can be sure there’s something under your bed. It’s not to say all of these things are out to harm you. No, they’re more like Sid’s toys in Toy Story. Bits and pieces of genres and sounds taken from their proper places, then reassembled in a way they weren’t originally intended.
Poemss consists of Aaron Funk and Joanne Pollock. In their first album together, they delve deep into an abstract surrealism where only electronic music can take you. Aaron Funk is, to some, better known as Venetian Snares, the super high-tempo producer from Canada. Poemss might just be the opposite of that.
Poemss succeeds on an artistic level in that the tracks produce a response in the consumer. The listener is at the whim of Poemss’ bizarre dreaming. The album feels more like a score than a traditional album. Poemss follows several arcs that could be easily turned into a no-budget retro, futuristic film. “Ancient Pony” serves as a welcome to this strange place you’ve somehow found your way into. Everything warps and you have Aaron Funk’s deep, riddling voice asking you about a savior pony.
Things are darkest in songs like “Bedtime,” which should be played during the scene in The Shining when Nicholson’s “son” is riding his big wheel through the halls of the hotel, and on “Miles Away,” where a low tempo slows to a crawl and Pollock beautifully and tragically provides advice. “You can’t love a girl from a million miles away / Lap your wounds and toss them to the stars / And forget them.” This is the turning point of Poemss. From “Miles Away” on, the songs are significantly more upbeat. “Think of Somewhere Nice” and the final track, “Think of Something Beautiful,” make the listener do just as they’re told. These songs pull the listener out of the darker tracks and closer to the world that they’d left before pressing play.
Poemss’ Poemss enchants, alarms, and soothes. The layering of ambient sounds and thick rhythms is more than capable of sending you to a place very far away. It’s only a matter of whether you can afford to step out for a while.