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Poor Genetic Material: Absence

You know that you're going to have to be in it for the long haul when you encounter Poor Genetic Material, this German progressive outfit one which refuses to reveal all its facets on first listen. In fact to get to know Absence, the band's ninth studio release, you can expect to be heading well towards double figure listens before you believe you're finally getting to the bottom of what's going on. 

They say like father, like son, but Poor Genetic Material put that into practice and disprove their name in the process Martin Griffiths of Beggars Opera joining his son Phillip as the band's co-vocalist, the combination of bonded yet separate voices an interesting one. Musically things are equally evolved, the prog traditions of the 70s utilised alongside a huge swathe of Neo and a more updated current progressive sounds. Although unlike previous albums by this band I've heard, there are also a few less proggy moments.

"Absconded" is one of these latter selections where prog takes a backseat for a while. However the results are mixed, a cluttered almost Roxy Music sound of booming drums and high in the mix vocals causing you to lose interest during the album's most intense attack, even if the Marillion like breakdown into almost blues, is cleverly executed. Based round the concept of 'lacking', the songs all feature a theme of loneliness, the two most effective examples bookending proceedings in the shape of "Absence Part1" and, unsurprisingly, "Absence Part2", the latter especially an involving journey through ambient noise, atmospheric keys from Philipp Jaehne and acoustic and pensive electric guitar from Stefan Glomb. Peaks and troughs of intensity ebb and flow, pulling your imagination eagerly along for the ride. It's hard not to get swept along as one of the more contained vocals on the album soothes and consoles quite beautifully. Elsewhere some of the vocals may prove an acquired taste, a very precise attack reminding of Dennis De Young (ex-Styx) combined with Michael Sadler of Saga. I have to admit to really quite liking what the family Griffiths bring to the PGM party, however I also have to confess that it has taken quite a time to see things from their perspective this time round.

"Chalkhill Blues" stretches the album's boundaries somewhat, electronic beats and roaming bass (bassist Dennis Sturm is excellent throughout) playing neatly off the ever excellent flute work from Pia Darmstaedter and sympathetic keys, as a faintly funky staccato riff takes things in unexpected directions. Although the mid-paced "Lost In Translation" can prove a little overwrought at times however it has to be said that the keyboard solo is quite wonderful.

Poor Genetic Material are never a band to do things the easy way, their rewards always tightly wrapped in enigmatic mystery. If you have the patience to slowly unravel what this band lay out, there's no denying that your efforts will pay off. Although I'd suggest that Absence maybe doesn't quite have the same riches that previous albums from this band have provided.

Track Listing
1. Absence - Part 1
2. What If?
3. Lost In Translation
4. Chalkhill Blues
5. Absconded
6. Absence - Part 2

Added: December 10th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Poor Genetic Material on Facebook
Hits: 1423
Language: english

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