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It seems only fair that an artist’s album release show should be her night to shine. Puce Mary, celebrating the release of her album The Spiral, on a bill of solid noise artists (performing in ascending order of aggression) doesn’t shine so much as burn; she is a one woman inferno who consumes any impression the evening’s previous performers might have made.
Mayhem is dimly lit, a smoke machine is activated multiple times during sets, making it impossible to see or breathe, and for the occasion there are bunches of dried or at least wilting flowers tactfully arranged everywhere. It’s about as atmospheric as Mayhem ever gets, and while a single person behind a table of gadgets doesn’t, on paper, sound like it will be visually stimulating, it’s a shame when it’s blotted out by a Steven King-style fog.
The strengths of Puce Mary’s work is that she’s more rhythm centric than a lot of noise artists and her sound has a greater range of dynamics. She maintains a steady, brutal low end that, when it takes over a song, is bone-crushing. When she allows harsher punctuations to balance it, the shrieking could wake the dead.
Her physical movements while she plays are somewhere between being carried away by her songs and being completely possessed by demonic tones — it seems like a risk to climb on a table where all of your gear is laid out, but then it’s nice to have the visual threat level upped to match the music.
Half an hour into the set, the music cuts off abruptly. The already dim house lights don’t come up, but the DJ cues up some charmingly incongruous calypso. A small group can be seen huddling over Puce Mary’s gear. Whether or not that was the intended ending, it worked.
But seriously, the ventilation at Mayhem is not good enough for that much smoke.