Frau Pouch bloody love a split EP don’t they? By my reckoning this is the third that they’ve appeared on, which is appropriate, given their position as cornerstones of Medway’s lively Math/Noise/Punk scene. On this one they’re joined by fellow noisemongers Punching Swans, with whom they share a member, the disgustingly talented Joe Wise. The EP features an original song by each band, plus they each do a version of the title track (the label calls it a ‘musical venn diagram’).
It’s a weird experience, listening to a four track EP with two versions of the same song on it. It pops up once, then there’s a different track in the middle, and then there it is again, only slightly different. An instance of sonic deja vu which one could easily see backfiring if the song wasn’t right.
Thankfully “Mr Insipid” itself is a belter of a tune, with a pounding riff that suits both bands sounds. Pouch’s version is slightly sparser, with the usual Pouchian trick of the guitar dropping out in the verses, leaving Suzanne Wise and Ollie Crook’s drums and bass to crash and fart along under proudly yelping, I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-saying vocals (I think there’s a bit about wine tasting a bit like soap, and some guy being full of disease, other than that I’m lost, but working it out is part of the fun!). Punching Swans take on the song is much heavier, largely driven by Greg Webster’s utterly furious guitar, which batters the listener full in the face, whereas Frau Pouch’s sound sort of delivers a vulcan neck pinch, ever so slightly more subtle, but just as effective. It would be nice if Greg also did lead vocals on the Swanny version of the song, instead of Joe singing both, as this would perhaps do more to make the two tracks distinct, but apparently the whole effort is Mr Wise’s brainchild so this decision is understandable.
Punching Swans’ track “Bees” provides the first (hah) B-side here, a sinister stroll through some electric garden, where the Swans offer up praise to (hopefully giant and mechanical) six legged swarms, coming for your nectar, the guitar tone itself is terrifying enough, twanging and reverberating off into infinity then galloping straight at you on tiny wings when the chorus kicks in, but Greg’s angry howl fuels my insect based panic and unease even further. Excellent.
Finally there’s the Pouch’s “Comb(a) Beard“, which is the sort of anti-song I like to see from them, great little riff, lyrics about not much, sounds like the intro to a great song, but just as you think it’s about to kick off it stops. Guys. You trollin’.
Both bands have albums in the works, and while I would have bought them anyway this EP has ramped my anticipation up to preposterous levels, bring it on kids.