Puma is an impressive Norwegian guitar, keyboard/electronics, and drum trio that destroy everything in their path on this fine album. Their music covers a Pangaea-sized stylistic territory and hovers tantalizingly between composition and full-on group improvisation.
Opener “Bison Woven” is an unassuming start, just some sparse filaments of guitar and damp keyboards. The next song, title track “Half Nelson Courtship,” also starts out modestly with some electronic rattling and guitar scraping sounding like rats chewing a circuit board. Then drum fills set the composition into motion and the sound pulses and weaves. The drums become busier by degree, the guitar reaches for higher and higher octaves, and the synth wraawinnng starts to sound seasick.
The band quiets down on “Last Waltz,” cultivating a gentle spaciness that comes in and out of focus, then leaps heavenward. Diversity is really the only constant for this band, whether toying with feedback and industrial clanging (“Innamorati Osculati”), shredding outright on “Knitstep,” or layering church organ and guitar on the chilling and majestic “Hachioji Silk Blues.”
Yet for all the stylistic creativity, it’s the intangibles that put Puma at another level. Like how they arrive at such a heavy, noisy, but immaculately clean sound. Though informed by jazz, rock, noise, and electroacoutic music, their style is their own. Perhaps their MySpace page says it best: “Influences: very many. Sounds Like: hardly anyone”
When asked to name a favorite wild cat, tennis shoe, and Norwegian jazz/metal band I can at long last answer with a single word. 8/10 -- Mike Pursley (8 September, 2010)