band hailing from Failsworth
. Puressence combines anthemic guitars, intricate sound textures and androgynous
vocals that are by turns tremulous, angelic and wailing. Their sound harks back to the Madchester
scene and to melancholy 80s britrock bands like Joy Division
, Echo and the Bunnymen
and the Chameleons
Band-members James Mudrizcki (whose voice reminds me vaguely of Feargel Sharkey's), Neil MacDonald (guitar), Tony Szuminski (drums), and Kevin Matthews (bass) formed Puressence after seeing a Stone Roses gig in 1988. The band released two singles with Manchester indie Too Damn Loud and a single with Rough Trade Singles Club before signing with Island in '96.
Puressence's eponymous debut, released by Island in 1996, had a subdued, almost gothic feel despite its frequently cacophonous atmosphere. Standout tracks included the icy, desolate album opener Near Distance and the near-perfect pop of Traffic Jam In Memory Lane. The second album, Only Forever (1998), built on the sense of soaring, epic expansiveness established on the debut, although at times it veered uncomfortably towards overbearing bombast. Two singles off the album, This Feeling and All I Want, made the UK top 40, peaking at #33 and #39 respectively.
Puressence released Planet Helpless on Island in 2002, after a four year delay caused, in Mudrizcki's words, by "politics, boardroom shit, culls of bands and the like." Collaborations with Les Negresses Vertes and Vee from London hip hop group Scalectrix added varied instrumentation, electronic ambience and a newfound awareness of beats to the mix. The band blended the new elements seamlessly into their core sound, which remained intact and instantly recognizable. Planet Helpless lacked the erratic brilliance of earlier efforts, but it was their strongest and most consistent album to date.
1996 Puressence (Island Records)
1998 Only Forever (Island Records)
2002 Planet Helpless (Island Records)
Tracklisting of Puressence's debut album:
- Near Distance
- I Suppose
- Mr Brown
- Traffic Jam In Memory Lane
- Casting Lazy Shadows
- You're Only Trying To Twist My Arm
- Every House On Every Street