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  Distortion is Truth  
  Robert Poss  

Trace Element Records

Release Date:
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I enjoy distorted guitar albums. I have written about my enjoyment of R. Guthrie's solo work, the output of Lanterna, and even the noisiness of Flying Saucer Attack. But Robert Poss. Well, i liked his stuff with Band of Susans, but i don't think that his solo work is compelling enough for a 68 minute album. An EP -- possibly. Someone must disagree with me, however, as apparently there is another full-length out there of this stuff, one that poor Lawton sat through!

My overall summary of this disc is such: it is over an hour of half-finished, loosely fleshed out ideas. None of the pieces here really come across as complete songs. Instead they are the strong noisy guitar backbones of songs, waiting for some other elements to be overlaid. I do not know what the song-writing breakdown was in Band of Susans, but after listing to Distortion is Truth, i would suspect that Mr. Poss needs to work with other people who can help him flesh out his ideas more. And there is no shame in that -- many bands are made up of individuals who can never achieve the same glory on their own. Look at Pink Floyd. They make wonderful music together, but have you ever sat through an entire Roger Waters solo album? Ugh. The whole is often greater than the sum of the parts.

That said, let me go over a few tracks here, the ones that stand out to me, the ones that seem most complete.

Regret is my favorite tune here. It features a loping bass part accompanying Poss on his trademarked noisy guitar. I guess i like this most because it sounds a lot like a stripped down Band of Susans tune. It's instrumental, but in this context Poss proves himself to be an excellent guitarist. Azulene is good for similar reasons. Here, though, Poss is playing along with the bass and a slightly cheesy drum machine. Both of these tunes are good instrumental rock music.

I also find Memphis/Little Rock For Robert Palmer and Randall Lyon to be somewhat compelling. Here Poss starts by creating a nice, noisy electric guitar drone, then he plays pedal steel style guitar overtop of this. The natural whininess of the pedal steel is a nice counterpoint to the fuzzed out distortion.

Showbiz is a short guitar interlude. Poss plays lightly, effortlessly, in a languid manner. He can make his instrument perform beautifully when he tries.

Other than that, well, the rest of the album ranges from the annoying (Radio Free Albemuth Revisited, which sounds a lot like the stuff Lawton described as being on the follow-up to this album) to the dull (Where Do Things Stand, wherein Robert Poss reveals that he really likes Soundgarden, but can't quite figure out how to play guitar like Kim Thayil).

Overall, i don't really think that most people would get too into this album. It's not awful, and i don't hate it like Lawton hated Crossing Casco Bay, but i don't see all that much merit in it either. I guess that if you are a HUGE Band of Susans fan, then this is a good purchase. Most of the rest of us will probably want to stay away.

Related Links:
  Crossing Casco Bay, the follow-up to this album.  

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