Poor Genetic Material | Absence | Album Review 2016
Release Year: 2016
Genre: Progressive Rock
Phil Griffiths – Vocals
Martin Griffiths – Vocals
Stefan Glomb – Guitars
Philipp Jaehne – Keyboards
Dennis Sturm – Bass
Dominik Steinbacher – Drums
Pia Darmstaedter – Flutes
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It is no secret that Germany have had a significant hand in the progressive rock and progressive metal for the last 45+ years. Starting with the early Krautrock bands like Amon Dull ii, Can, Popol Vuhl, Sun Ra, Klause Schultz and Kraftwerk, Germany have certainly left their lasting legacy in the world of progressive rock which influence is still felt and handed down to this day. In recent years bands like Vanden Plas, Sieges Even, Subsignal and now Poor Genetic Material have continue the German progressive rock legacy.
Poor Genetic Material are no strangers to the world of progressive rock. Founded in 2000 and with eight prior releases under their belt, Poor Genetic Material continue to add their own flavour and blend of quality well crafted progressive rock to the progressive rock community. I suppose if one had to make comparisons, Poor Genetic Material’s sound is a mixture of Yes meets Caravan meets Subsignal. This is also very evident with their current 2016 offering Poor Genetic Material Absence.
Absence has a little bit of every element of progressive rock. It contains longer compositions, great atmospheric chord progressions and even some light off rhythmic sections that still remain within the main time signature focus and objective. Poor Genetic Material’s Absence also has a warmth and maturity about it that is appealing to both a mature seasoned progressive audio pallet and a fun appeal that even draws in a younger more curious audience to their music. With only six tracks, some that range from 3+ minutes to 18+ minutes Poor Genetic Material’s Absence provides a quality hour of progressive bliss that is certainly to continue the band’s own legacy. Within the duration of the hour plus, Poor Genetic Material examine the void, emptiness brought by the absence of a person through death or a break up of a friendship, a lifestyle change,,or even a change in circumstances.The band has also taken brilliant creative license by book ending the 30+ minute epic Absence. That is the immediate indicator that this is a concept album and that the band is about to take you the listener on a cerebral journey stimulated by music through the audio senses. Now let’s look at few highlights from Absence.
Absence Part 1 starts out with a nice keyboard driven atmospheric passage in the intro. It continues layers upon layers of various keyboard effects as it builds towards the inside of the track itself. It is like a film soundtrack opening with soft warm and subtle vocals gingerly in step with the atmospheres. The lyrical content speaks of loss and loneliness that anyone can identify with. It also speaks of those who may mean well about talking to these people in the afterlife however the person in question who experienced loss of a friend wants no part of it. The instrumental atmospheres and melodies are spot on point with the emotion conveyed by the character in the story. Instrumentally the band build these symphonic style passages with smooth rhythm sections.
What If …? Lyrically picks up where Absence Part 1 leaves off except this time it has a thunderous rhythm section with very abstract guitar passages. Lyrically the character starts to question the very definition of the topic of Absence. The vocal presentation and delivery is both soulful and has a powerful level of conviction to perfectly accompany the powerful rhythm based section. The harmonies between father and son duo of Phillip and Martin Griffiths are both powerful and filled of soul. The guitar work is like another vocal transcribed on the fretboard. Although they sound slightly neo progressive, the keyboards provide a darker side to the song.
Lost In Translation begins with a lush keyboard that is layered with a very dark symphonic bass line. The synth guitars continue to add to the dark atmosphere to this one. The lyrical matter explores what all humans question while in this life still, that being where do we go once our body takes its last breath and we enter the afterlife. With the dark brooding instrumental in harmony with the warm vocals this makes for a emotional 4+ minutes. A lot of this composition reminds me of IQ’s Dark Matter.
Chalkhill Blues opens up with a far more upbeat and lighter instrumental chord progressions. The lyrical matter is even a lot lighter on this track. However make no mistake the band remains on point with the concept of Absence on this one.
Absconded is a story of absence due to the break up of a friendship or relationship whether it be a personal or professional relationship.It is also the absence of influence as well. This track is very heavy on percussive rhythm with the drums matched by the deep textures in the guitars and synth guitars. The backing vocals perfectly echo compliment the lead vocals. The harmonies have a little more muscle on them throughout this track. The unsung hero of this track are both the Hammond style organ and the beautiful flute done wonderfully by Pia Darmstaedter. The flute seems to also take on another level of emotion to match the mental content lyrically.
Absence Part 2 opens with a very wonderful atmosphere of both keyboard and brilliant percussion work adding layers to textures. This has some serious special effects of vast open atmospheres like those heard in space rock. It is as if the music is calling and beckoning the listener from deep interstellar space. Lyrically the character is forced to mature or perish under the weight of his own loneliness and grief This is a heavily atmospheric track from the first to final note. It would make sense that the band book ended the 30+ minute epic of Absence. The book ending of the epic with the shorter tracks in the middle serve as the various forms absence takes within the human psyche. The band throughout the 6 tracks beautifully paint a dark, melancholic yet beautiful story on the theater of the mind of the listener.
Poor Genetic Material’s Absence is not just another piece of album work as far as the writing, recording, mixing and mastering. It goes way beyond that. This is music that is more crafted than the typical process. The band really pays attention greatly to detail. I will admit this was my first introduction to Poor Genetic Material. Now to get started financially on their library of the previous eight releases. Poor Genetic Material’s Absence gets a 4.75/5 .
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