The Strange World of Suzie Pellet is a concept album born from the collaboration of Transmaniacon (who provide the acid/ space rock sonic attack) and the imagery of artist Ian Miller who created Suzie and her post-apocalyptic tale for an as yet unpublished graphic novel. The assembled cast of musicians and performance artists breathe life into the bleak, future urban landscape of Duht and our protagonist, Suzie who slowly reveals her past.
If the term ‘concept’ album makes you recoil in horror or if you unfamiliar with the term it broadly describes a body of work which is linked together thematically such as The Beatles Sgt Pepper, The Who’s Tommy, Gong’s Radio Gnome Trilogy, Pink Floyd’s The Wall or even Green Day’s American Idiot. This is in another league.
Do not panic. This is dark, bleak heavy riffing accessorised with overdriven Hammond organs, groovy doomy basslines and throbbing percussion. It’s dirty, it harks back to the 70’s yet it’s futuristic and the music is as intriguing as the tale.
Step into the nightmare world of Suzie Pellet.
Sci Fi esque prog synthesisers, swell into a heavy doom laden riffs with a narrative by the inimitable avant garde artist Lydia Lunch. . We are introduced to Suzie as she recalls her past, emotionlessly, factually almost fatalistically. It’s not a pretty story, there’s blood, death, pain and the space rock synth swells become more disconcerting and discomforting. Progressive, funky techy guitar riffs phase out the synths as Suzie sets the tone for this ruined city in which we find ourselves.. It is not a place you would want to loiter. It was a dangerous time Inca Sunshine… Painted on Skin opens with an intro worthy of the NWOBHM, with synths and catchy guitar riffs. The glorious voice of Maya Berlin (Cold in Berlin) rouses you from you reverie as the young Suzie Pellet and primal rhythms picks up the pace. Who does young Suzie remind me of? Is it Toyah Wilcox, We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It!!, Grace Slick, Elastica, Patti Smith, Siouxie Sioux or Republica. All fantastic performers and singers, yet all so iconic and individual. But concentrate. Concentrate on the storyline, the desperation of Suzie, the angst and her strength, try not to be distracted by the primal percussion, the acid jazzy bridges the searing vocals and simply enjoy.
The River The Birds is a more upbeat punky affair with an initially galloping pace, which metamorphoses into a more progressive movement. Sexton Breen is heavier, bringing about a sense of foreboding into a sleazy dystopian future. The track alternates between the young Suzie who provides a chorus and the elder, pensive, Suzie. Breen is a new character that lives nearby with packs of what were formerly mans best friends. Possibly a former gravedigger, he is now rumoured to bury the living.. cue psychedelic screeching hammond style synths of horror.
Dogs of War opens with a drone with an added an O Fortuna esque (Ozzy intro/ Excalibur film/ The Undertaker) choir, then percussion, fuzz and guitars building an atmosphere of even greater foreboding. Don’t go outside don’t breathe it in young Suzie whoops, while warning of the dogs of war. ‘Once they would share you bed, now they would see you dead’.
This is the first track to be taken from the album. Watch the video directed by Duane Sherwood now:
Old Suzie, reminisces of ‘Errol’ her saviour, her mother and the emotion shows in the doomy stomp of Outrun the Pack. Young Suzie echoes the song mother used to sing hauntingly, as she too recollects her circumstance.
I was a different person then muses our future Suzie in Tooled Up and the torch is returned to the young, feisty Suzie to continue the narrative and terminate with Aerosol Death Rattle.
This is a triumph of a concept album- it’s peculiar but accessible with gothic elements in both storytelling and musical style with a heavy coating of doom and aspects of prog, metal and industrial peeking through the layers. The ‘Suzie’s are perfectly cast and in all this work was a delight to listen to, although I fear I now need it on vinyl!
Painted on Skin
The River The Birds
Dogs of War
Outrun the Pack
Aerosol Death Rattle
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