Bristol has, for a very long time, been an epicenter for a wealth of different bands and musicians, from many different genres. Everything from punk and rock, to eighties pop and new wave alternative, it’s all been through there, but in more modern times it’s most notably the birthplace to the whole trip hop movement of the nineteen nineties, with such acts as Portishead, Tricky, Roni Size, and Massive Attack. It’is widely recognised as the foundation place for Idles too, and its also home for the subjects of this review, POHL.
Comprised of duo Will Pearce and Jamie Thompson, the Bristol two piece have been leaving their mark on the music scene ever since the release of debut EP Pohlsmoker in two thousand and twelve.
Since then it has been a somewhat turbulent time for the duo, there was a follow up release in two thousand and fourteen entitled Pohl II, which was followed a while after by a hiatus, and with what looked like the end for POHL. Thankfully Will and Jamie reconciled, and are now in the position to be releasing their third outing, entitled Freakspeed. It’s a seven-track voyage into the dark and twisted minds of the Bristol cohorts, and if this release is anything to go by, it will have you itching to catch them live if the situation ever occurs.
Extremely experimental and diy in its nature, this noise rock outpouring leaves nothing to the imagination. It’s hard and abrasive, it’s mostly instrumental, but it’s one hundred percent engaging. There aren’t many two-piece outfits out there that can claim such spontaneitycaptured through their recording as Pohl do here. It sounds like it’sbeen single take recorded. Its primal and visceral, urgent, and demanding of your attention.
Right from the opening of the affair, track one, Erectum, we’re given more of a suggestion for how best to enjoy Freakspeed as a narrator runs us through the correct procedure to enjoy the full POHL experience. Discussions about ‘Hash smokers’ and ‘One more enormous hit’, runs us face first in to everything POHL have to offer. Its heavy driving bass and drum lead us straight into the disjointed madness. It’s as paranoia inducing as music could ever be, and it definitely forces the feeling of panic to creep in.
Tracks such as the title track, Freakspeed, do little to dowse these feelings, they’re compacted in fact, and you barely notice the absence of vocal until track three, Parasite kicks in just to up the ante. It has an air of industrial about it, reminiscent of Ministry at times, but in a unique and much more of stoner way.
If you crave something completely different, heavy, and slightly unhinged, then this is definitely something to search out…
Superpredator, not to be confused with the most recent addition to the movie franchise, throws driving bass, pummeling drums, and indecipherable vocals directly into our faces. I don’t know actually, maybe it’s the musical equivalent of the alien hunting killing machines in full flight after all!
With heavy feedback, dirty guitars, and bucket loads of distortion, the insanity rumbles on, right up to the climax of the opus, track seven, Outro, which does exactly what it says on the tin. It breaks down the sound, and rounds it all off nicely to its inevitable end. It isn’t complicated, just a fitting end to a unique listening experience, that’s for sure.
As a newbie to POHL, it took me a minute to catch the subtlety of the band name, it was only when realising that there was an album named Pohlsmoker that I finally caught on to the band name properly.
If you crave something completely different, heavy, and slightly unhinged, then this is definitely something to search out, and give some time to. It is best served via a stereo, turned up anywhere past safe, as listening on anything smaller, like a phone, or a Bluetooth speaker, really won’t give you the full impact of POHL doing what they do best. It’s quite the wall of noise for such a small collective.
If you do go searching out Freakspeed, it won’t be that hard to spot, as with one of the creepiest covers that I’ve seen all year, it will definitely leave an impression that you won’t forget any time soon.. In an age where bigger is better, POHL are living proof that you don’t need to be big to create a big sound, just have enough energy, and some good tunes, and you will go a long way.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish