Published Oct 03, 2018In her time making music as Puce Mary, Frederikke Hoffmeier has frequently turned to previous performances to reckon with former versions of herself, sometimes repurposing things she "recorded years ago," as she once told the Quietus. "Sometimes you get a stronger connection to things because of the perspective you can gain from time, sometime [sic] it loses the effect or emotion you intended it to have, or what it had at the time."
As she departs Posh Isolation for a release under Bill Kouligas's PAN imprint, that dialectical relationship is the engine generating the scenes she explores on The Drought. The impetus for this release appears to come from unfinished business with the semi-titular "A Feast Before the Drought," a track Hoffmeier previously committed to Yours, a limited cassette issued specifically for an Australian tour in 2016.
While that version of the piece had Hoffmeier floating a reverb-drenched spoken word piece over lapping electricity that purrs and sparks with discomforting unease (in live performances, Hoffmeier has added screamed vocal lines), here she's tightened up the composition and chopped the voice performance out wholesale, content to let the scorching electronics reign supreme and unaccompanied, buzzing like a saw mill from hell.
But as The Drought progresses, the jaundiced mode of creeping monologue Hoffmeier inhabited to accompany the original "Feast" returns, pining "To hear a human voice and trust that it comes from a human who was made like me" while referencing "the trauma of child abuse" and expressing a feeling of drowning "under you, under society, politics and the decay of nature, my lack of interest" ("Red Desert") or embodying the tension of a Hegelian master-slave dialectic ("To Possess Is to Be In Control"), lending unexpected touches like flute stabs ("The Size of Our Desires") and the prolonged suggestion of ambient noise psychological weight.
This is an environment that is harsh and inhospitable by design, and that's demonstrated in everything from the composition of each piece to the tone of Hoffmeier's monologues, cold and despondent as they trace a landscape where knowledge is power but change is constant: what Hoffmeier is really unpacking is a failure to find any emotional footholds — The Drought isn't just a world in turmoil, it's completely bereft of hope.
And though Hoffmeier is building this world through a surrealist lens of blood red noise and disintegrating imagery, it remains an abundantly familiar environment, and when that sinks in, it rocks you to the core. This is thoroughly traumatizing noise horror, and even with Halloween still a month off, it's hard to imagine a more terrifying album to come this year. (Pan)