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A Magazine for Sheffield

Record Review : XXL - Puff O'Gigio

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Puff O'Gigio is the third album by XXL, a collaboration between electronic noise pop group Xiu Xiu and post-rock band Larsen. Written and recorded in a single week, the band describe Puff as a 'mythological, genetically modified character - a cross between the notorious Belgian 2-apple sized blue creatures and the equally popular Italian talking and dancing mice'. Obviously.

Puff wheezes into action with 'Intro', 30 seconds of pillowy organ tones and gurgling samples leading into the New Order-via-Twin Peaks rush of 'Ghost Maid'. This track establishes the album's palate of buzzing guitar, shuffling drums and electronics, building up to a spoken word section in which Larsen's Fabrizio Palumbo directly questions the ghost maid in a strong Italian accent.

The album pares down the wild dynamics and harsh noise of Xiu Xiu while retaining the frightening atmosphere they have become known for, with an enjoyably live feel supplied by Larsen's rhythm section. 'Carissimo' goes through several movements featuring hypnotic percussion, pitched-down vocals, synth explosions and something that sounds vaguely like steel drums, while 'To Carol Rama' features typically melodramatic spoken word from Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart over a bed of dissonant organ and clean bell tones.

'Polar Bear Boogie' parts one and two recall Xiu Xiu's quieter moments before ending on splashy cymbals and heavily delayed guitar noise. 'Welcome to My Planet', 'Lemoning', and 'Queen of Koalas' all start with prominent reed drones providing some much-needed variety, once again descending into various forms of whirring chaos.

Jack Buckley

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