Allow me a moment to put you in a different place of the world…
In one of the darker corners in the heart of this little city I call home, there used to be a nifty little club. To get there, you generally had to run the gauntlet down a street well known for being the centre of bubbling nightlife. Lined with myriad clubs thumping generic beats and guarded by bouncers who, if they lowered themselves enough to look at you twice, it was only so that they could look away again. You’d have to make it past the ‘gentlemen’ who felt a wolf whistle and a slurred “oy! come-o’er-ere” was a charming enough pick-up line and became indignant when informed it wasn’t; break through the walls of girls locked in arms, trying to hold up drunken friends with one elbow and down their skirts with the other so that they could stagger to the next club and – presumably – maintain an air of dignity about the proceedings. Finally, you’d have to hurdle the odd character that wouldn’t so much mind about their public image and simply flash you a polite smile before diving into the bin next to you to look for discarded cigarette butts to smoke. A quick exit stage left and you would arrive at The Proscenium – sanctuary!
That’s a bit of a history lesson; here’s a little etymology.
The proscenium is the arch that separates the stage from the auditorium (thus, also commonly known as the proscenium arch). The word itself has Latin / Greek origins, and in simplest terms referred to an entrance. The Proscenium that was the club couldn’t have been more aptly named. It was indeed something of a line, an encompassing arc and a threshold for a variety of sub-cultures. It was a dark, smoky place with velvet lounges in one corner, steel columns punctuating the dancefloor and a variety of gadgetry, gizmos and toys peppered elsewhere. In the dividing line between performer and audience, few social lines existed and the goths, ravers, punks and forbears of modern hipster culture all danced to the same music – music just like Purset Spiritual Pigs create.
I’ll start with the basics… PSP is a music project that encompasses a variety of artistic disciplines. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to concentrate on the musical side of things here and now; more specifically, the album Body Misses. The album itself is partly collaborative – six of the album’s eleven tracks feature the talents of a variety of contributors, while the remaining five are the solo work of Minneapolis resident Helena Thompson.
Having a variety of resources, insight and creativity to draw from, Body Misses dabbles in a similarly vast array of ideas and styles, from punk to post-punk, rock, industrial, grunge and new wave. Occasionally infused with subtle touches of other influences, like the tribal percussion heard on Blood-Let, you might think it all sounds like a bit of a haphazard mixed bag. Rather than being a case of “too many cooks”, though, what’s on offer is a cohesive body of work that by no means misses its mark. PSP very much bring danceable rock to the arena, with a dark, gothic and industrial edge. For an immediate visual and musical reference, think The Crow having a little tryst with Run Lola Run.
At the forefront and tying it all together is the somewhat diffident and occasionally deadpan delivery of the vocals by Helena Thompson. Oh, and I don’t mean the shy version of diffidence, either. While musically exploring a variety of genres and concepts, the perspective is consummately maintained lyrically and vocally. There is a an air of reserved disenchantment within the world view of Purest Spiritual Pigs, one seeming to be well-earned and perhaps the end-result of a few battle wounds.
At the start, I mentioned a “different” place, but that city street is the kind of place that exists in prominence the world over. I always thought it was strange that the place I liked – my world – was the subset to that, it was the darker place, a swept-away secret on the fringes of society. I get the impression PSP knows both of these worlds quite well. If not, they certainly are fluent in their respective languages, with subject matter on Body Misses delving into the corners of them both. There are a number of dark stories here from behind the curtains; stories that speak of the kind of stagnancy that exists in these worlds and the frustrations that result. There is also an underlying awareness and implication that it isn’t all there is, that these windows will have their blinds pulled at any moment – which might not necessarily be up, either. Purest Spiritual Pigs seem well aware that sometimes the darker corners are the ones you need to move out from, other times they’re hiding the better alternatives.
You can look, listen to and learn more about Purest Spritual Pigs in the following places: