The SpiralPuce Mary

The Spiral

I have seen few live shows so violent as those from Puce Mary. During her performance at Berlin Atonal last year, she lurched from one side of the stage to the other, screeching indiscernible phrases that built to a deafening climax, leaving the audience stunned and bewildered. Yet while her stage shows have left an unmistakable mark on all those that have laid witness, Puce Mary is far from just a live act. She has released on a number of different labels, from Berlin based (predominantly) cassette label Total Black to (exclusively) cassette label Nordisk Klub. Lately however, she seems to have found the best home for her claustrophobic doom-noise on Copenhagen based Posh Isolation. If the name sounds familiar, the imprint graduated from short-run tapes with everything from vinyl to written works and art exhibits. By the looks of their Facebook, the label are now even selling t-shirts and condoms.

This is therefore a befitting home for Puce Mary, since her music is highly pre-occupied with our most basic of human functions. Orgasms, flesh, piss, bodies, fear and pleasure all feature as central themes in her music. This fixation with the physical is shared with much of the power electronics scenes of the ’80s and ’90s. Like Whitehouse and Prurient, Puce Mary’s distorted frequencies seem to clamber inside of one’s ear and into the body. At times, the invasive intimacy on The Spiral reaches unbearable levels, like her softly spoken voiceover on ‘Enter Into Them’: “…the skin will start softening and coming off / they will frantically scratch their faces and peel themselves like oranges…”

The album also has a repressed energy to it, with bursts of noise jumping out at unsuspecting moments. Across ‘The Temptation To Exist’, sickly metallic textures grind against the most fragile of rhythmic backdrops: like an old film reel struggling to play at a consistent speed. On ‘Masks Are Aids II’, knotted drones and clattering drums falter beneath Puce Mary’s ultra-sonic tones.

I have often wondered if power electronics will or can ever make a ‘comeback’. The idea itself is somewhat bizarre since the genre has never really been fully naturalised into mainstream appreciation, and perhaps never will. Indeed, Puce Mary seems decidedly resilient to assimilation of any kind. Ear-splitting frequencies, harsh visual imagery and violent live shows have made her enigmatic and triumphantly abstruse.

  • Published
  • Apr 14, 2016