Disemballerina – Poison Gown

We, a creature of nature, often forget this fact, going about our daily lives, constantly moving forwards, rarely looking back, attempting to live in a present that is at once past and future. It’s when we realize our own mortality, when we experience wretchedness that we understand everything is simply on the same path towards degradation. We sometimes leave death to nature, sometimes nature decides before we wish it to, and sometimes it lies within our own power. Such is the allure of poison, of a crystal glass of bleach or a cigarette laced with arsenic. Long have we as a species perfected death, we have mastered it in our inability to control life. Instead of seeking eternity, we have chosen finality, living under a constant shroud as we drag ourselves into the grave from which we were born. Poison is the most powerful and classic of ends in this regard. It causes suffering, it purges pleasure, it enacts revenge and hopelessness, and it has long been the muse of folklore and myth. Many have woven tales of poison, and the image of the Poison Gown is one of the oldest, but like Medea or Lucretia the end is always the same beautiful death.


I’m so glad this one came down the promo chute. That’s what it is to me now, a chute, with countless, nameless, pointless albums flying by like unsorted trash on a conveyor belt, never catching my attention. Trash art, trash sound, most of the time. Truth be told, it’s been awhile since I did a full site review because I’m planning big things for this site and streamlined how reviews are done here, but this is the kind of album that deserves that full write-up that is now something of an award to those who receive it. Portland trio Disemballerina is the next to win the prize that no one cares about yet. They’ve been called many things including neoclassical, but that actually doesn’t make any sense since Neoclassicism was a movement particular to the 17th and up to the first half of 18th century. Post-Classicism, perhaps would be more accurate, but that’s what I’m here for. What can you otherwise expect when critics lack the proper background; can you blame them when their hands type mere nonsense when presented with an anomaly of this type? Poison Gown, understandably, has confounded some people, but regardless of their confusion they still understood it’s importance. I mean, jeez, if Target carries it, it must be the next big thing. Actually that’s a joke, I think. When I first listened to this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As usual I allow the art to draw me in, then I listen, without any time wasted on reading promos or reviews. I just let the music sit for awhile. Then I listen again, and once my brain latches on, if it does, then I look to find what the band, and others, have said. I then discovered, to my misfortune, that the meaning of this album was already thoroughly explained on, ugh, Noisey. I know, you can forgive me some day for the posting of that link, maybe. But hey, we’ll permit this today because this band deserves it, they deserve some press, and here’s some more.


Poison Gown shares features that can be found in modern classical, like the work of Tomislav Baynov, but  here’s the problem. Most folks in the underground won’t even bother trying to touch this sort of thing. This is where Disemballerina comes in. Bridging that absolutely massive gap between what is perceived as “other” and the music you’re used to hearing around here is a task for the divine. It’s a shame, really, because there are a number of great musicians and groups like this that would absolutely violate your soul in the same way as raw, post-black metal, it’s just that classical seems to have this stigma of being part of a culture reserved for the old, or maybe the rich, unless you were steeped in it or have experience playing it. Poison Gown subverts this idea while rooting itself in the same traditions. This was no small task, and it’s really what drew me to this release, regardless of what they have to say about it. The trio works primarily with the foundation of cello and viola, but yet mixes bizarre sounds from acoustic guitar and even a machete (no, not that blade thing, this is an instrument). Their weaving of sound is intoxicating at the same time horrifying, revolving primarily around the theme of death (see above link). The only complaint I had is Poison Gown, unlike what you usually find in classical, lacks a cohesive theme. The sound is clearly melded together to perfection, but considering what the title is, I was hoping for more of a connected work that followed the idea of poisoning, rather than a collection of tracks that are only mostly connected by idea. I don’t like mostly in this case, I like fully. This is quite a minor complaint for something of this magnitude, however, and spectacular would be the word to put on it, so let’s end there for today.


Disemballerina Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Disemballerina: Poison Gown
Minotauro Records (CD), Red River Family (cassette)
4.7 / 5