Purling Hiss

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the city of Philadelphia. While the city is cosmo enough to call itself world class, there’s an underbelly of boho–blue collar ethos and mongrel weirdness among its inhabitants—not NYC, but not exactly mutant Jersey. That makes for years of awful baseball teams (depending on your perspective) and neighborhoods seemingly independent of themselves. But on the upside, it usually results in some of the woolliest, freak-fuck, psych music on the eastern seaboard. Birds of Maya fit that bill to perfection, masking a miscegenation of Southern rock, hair metal, dinosaur riffs and melted blues with a scale-tipping amount of ultra-scuzz. Ready to Howl, their sprawling double record from earlier this year, was even a bit too much, a record overtly monolithic, unhinged to the point that songs bleed from one side to the next. Perhaps that’s why I prefer Birds of Maya lead guitarist Mike Polizze’s solo venture, Purling Hiss, over his communal jams with his friends.

Hissteria is less unhinged, but still reeling in the same dust cloud of histrionic madness employed by Birds of Maya. In the spirit of contemporaries like Comets on Fire, or lesser known relics from the past, particularly similar to Zen Guerilla, Polizze presents chooglin’ in its purest state, just drowning it in loads of detritus. “Passenger Queen” is a rollicking juke joint on fire, the embers continually flying through the night sky. “Whipple Dam” is even crustier, playing on like a warped cassette of ZZ Top dubbed over by the maniacal rant of a mental patient searching for ghosts in the tape machine. On Hissteria, Polizze relentlessly rails on his guitar, not exactly amorphous wanking but calculated, as if he’s rattling off the top 100 solos of the ’70s and layering them atop each other. Billed as a party record, I’m not sure what party would invite the Purling Hiss over to steal the attention away from the host. This is psychedelia you don’t have to think too much about, just dig a little, take the blotter, whip a hair and get lost in. Cranked and out of direct earshot you could easily convince yourself what’s playing is anything from Damaged to Who’s Next. That’s a feat in itself. The Purling Hiss won’t change the scene in Philadelphia, as it’s an equally evolving and regressive state, but considering Polizze has another record for Woodsist right down the pike, he could be sticking around, jabbing his riffs into other people’s headspace for quite a while.
Kevin J. Elliott