- The Danish experimental artist is at her sinister best on this PAN debut.
- The freedom with which Frederikke Hoffmeier creates her harsh, chaotic textures as Puce Mary is, paradoxically, a product of control. "This I think is truly experimental," she said a few years ago. "Having a controlled set of variables and a system that is able to bear reproducible results." A devotion to discipline helps make The Drought, the Danish artist's first record for PAN, one of her best. The music here, as she explained recently to the Wire, "... is representative [of the record's theme]. The sounds that the listener is exposed to are, if not allegorical, functional, like a sonic lexicon. You listen to aural portraits of the ideas and struggles contained in the overall theme." The music moves with a clear sense of purpose, using simple sounds to build self-contained atmospheres.
One of the best examples of this controlled approach is, aptly enough, "To Possess Is To Be In Control." It opens with distant tones and slow spoken-word, intoned like a robot doling out brainwashing commands. As this atmosphere develops, blasts of static puncture the fog. They seem random at first, but gradually they form a rhythm, revealing the clear guidance of a human hand. That structure makes "To Possess Is To Be In Control" even scarier: this isn't chaos, but noise with direction and intent. Hoffmeier has said The Drought is about the struggle for self-preservation, an idea complemented by the music's often tense atmosphere.
To maintain that tension, The Drought deftly navigates unpredictable freedom and domineering control. With its distorted growls, "Slouching Uphill" evokes a nightmarish zoo. "Fragments Of A Lily" turns industrial bursts into a forbidding beat. Hoffmeier uses chilling vocals elsewhere to make her sound both human and hair-raising. ("I'm an old woman now / And I've lost my attraction… I feel desperate," goes one line on "Red Desert.") In the past, her work leaned more toward chaos, which often served her well, especially in her sense-assaulting live performances. But it's even stronger when she tightens the reins on her sound. The Drought is compelling because Hoffmeier is so clearly in charge.
02. A Feast Before The Drought
03. To Possess Is To Be In Control
04. Fragments Of A Lily
05. Red Desert
07. The Size Of Our Desires
08. The Transformation
09. Slouching Uphill