Puma: Half Nelson Courtship
Puma is Oystein Moen on keyboards and electronics, Stian Westerhus on guitar and electronics, and Gard Nilssen (also of Bushman’s Revenge) on drums. Half Nelson Courtship, an often unsettling piece of work and one that refuses to be ignored, is the band’s third album, and their first for the excellent Rune Grammofon label.
Long passages of trembling guitar and deep drones, like the sounds of crying ghosts or freight trains in the deep distance, are interrupted by little blasts of electronic scrawl and metallic whisper. Tracks run into one another with little or no obvious regard for sense or structure; relative calm is massacred by apparent chaos and vice versa. It’s almost as if more typical songs have been stretched taut and turned inside out, or as if Puma is inside of a song, or a memory of a song, and is trying relentlessly, forcefully, to escape.
Image swiped from Puma’s Myspace page.
Puma’s Half Nelson Courtship is challenging. The sympathetic listener will hear moments of extreme darkness and terror set against other moments of staggering beauty, while the listener who remains most interested in traditional songwriting and simpler melody, may hear little more than cinematic noise. Even then, however, Puma manages to impart silences with a greater, more shocking and triumphant beauty.
The album was recorded by Jorgen Traeen, and it sounds big, brutal, and alive on the hi-fi.