In a support video for this album, Peter Evans and Weasel Walter synthesize the genesis of each track via an amusing narration by a computerized voice, theoretically (and sarcastically) beneficial for “the many illiterate new-music fans”. This delivers a reviewer from the risk of falling into the trap of minute-by-minute chronicling which, in this case, would trigger a genuine nervous wreck. There are just too many shocks in Poisonous to single out, several of them unthinkable before the mandatory acceptance. An audience’s evolution is not inexpensive.
Let’s talk of the studio work. After three hours spent playing their guts out to record the basic materials, Evans and Walter subjected them to a sometimes radical reshaping, in accordance with compositional solutions destined to push the improvised infrastructure to further levels of aural intricacy. Revelatory tags in the album’s editorial information include — among others — Albert Ayler, Iannis Xenakis and Edgard Varese, whereas certain metronomical superimpositions — as in “Yellow Stainer” — will sound familiar to the students of Conlon Nancarrow’s incredible rhythmic entanglements. And the “stochastic temple block hailstorms” of “Verpa Bohemica”? Let me tell you: this is not stuff for dilettantes, in spite of a frequently punk-ish attitude.
Another major alteration to the correct perception of this formidable wholeness may be introduced by the listener themself. I, for one, played the CD with no knowledge of anything except the participants. The initial impression was that of an electroacoustic monster requiring maximum focus to extrapolate useful details (or, if you prefer, some handles to grip at in order not to get blown away). Then the ears started picking subtleties. For example, Evans’ prowess in generating deviant melodic fragments from ruptured upper partials, all the while keeping the pace with Walter’s limbs independently devising strategies for the de-pattern-ization of a human’s drumming possibilities.
We could spend a day looking for hyperboles, and it would ultimately be a pathetic effort. The humble advice from this writer: in approaching Poisonous, forget what you think you know about music. Even better, forget about yourselves and that stupid concept of “rhythm of life”. The origin and end of real life — namely, that which is not revolving around an individual’s egotistical needs — are based on chance and probability. Or perhaps dissonance and arrhythmia, available in large quantities from these fine purveyors.