ROBERT POSS passed through a succession of rock and blues bands before discovering punk in the late ‘70s and starting to write, record and release his own material. He joined Rhys Chatham's ensemble in the early ‘80s and remained a core member for several years. He also began performing and recording the music of eclectic electronicist Nicolas Collins, whom he had known since the mid-1970s. Eventually Poss realized that the sound of feedback, distortion and ringing overtones was "the cake, not the frosting" and began trying new ways of writing songs by layering simple chord patterns over drones and looped riffs. It was his initiative that gave rise to the wall-of-guitars group Band Of Susans in 1986, and his early experiments became the foundation of their sound.
Band Of Susans, which Rolling Stone Magazine described as "adamantly arty, brainy, visceral and bracing," went on to release two EPs and five LPs (all produced by Poss) before disbanding in 1995. Interviewed in The Wire, Steve Albini stated that “I think Robert Poss...is an enormously underrated guitar theorist. A lot of his approaches to the density of guitar are completely overlooked in any discussion about guitar.….The way he structures the song around the drone instead of finding a drone to fit into the song I think is wholly unique. In 2002 Poss released two companion solo CDs Distortion Is Truth and Crossing Casco Bay on Trace Elements Records. At the time, Tape Op Magazine described him as a:
Guitar genius, drone meister …. the master of treated and manipulated guitars.
Since his 2002 releases, Poss has composed and performed music for choreographers Sally Gross, Alexandra Beller and Gerald Casel. He has also worked with ex-Band Of Susans member Susan Stenger on a 96-day musical installation for the Musée d’art Contemporain in Lyon, France, in addition to performing at the premier of composer Phill Niblock’s piece "Stosspeng" in Krems, Austria and contributing music to an Albert Maysles/Kristen Nutile documentary, Sally Gross: The Pleasure Of Stillness.
In 2009 he performed with Rhys Chatham and Robert Longo at a Metropolitan Museum of Art retrospective and participated in Chatham’s Crimson Grail project for 200 guitars at Lincoln Center. He has also collaborated with Austrian visual artist Margret Wibmer and independent filmmakers in the U.S. and Europe.
He has also collaborated with Austrian visual artist Margret Wibmer and has written guitar-centric articles for The Leonardo Music Journal and The Tone Quest Report In March 2012 he performed the music of John Cage, Yoshi Wada and Phill Niblock along with long-time collaborator Susan Stenger at the AV Festival in Newcastle, U.K. In December of 2014 he performed in Paris with Susan Stenger, Einstürzende Neubauten‘s FM Einheit and renowned actress, writer and theatre artist Olwen Fouéré as part of a two-day music and sound installation. In February of 2017, he participated in the recording in Lisbon, Portugal of F.M. Einheit’s L'exposition d'un rêve (The Exhibition of a Dream), which had its premier at the Gubenkian Foundation in Paris in October of that year.
Reviewing his 2010 solo release Settings: Music For Dance, Film, Fashion and Industry, The Wire wrote that Poss' "abiding love for electric guitar is no casual dalliance or detached Platonic infatuation; it's an erotic commitment, an obsessive plunge into the instrument's metallic churn and enveloping drone."
To learn more about Robert's work with other musicians visit the Collaborations page, see what people are saying about his work check out the Press page, view videos of Robert on YouTube or click below to listen to his music.
Best known for his legendary guitar group Band Of Susans, Robert Poss continues to inspire with SETTINGS, a collection of music commissioned by choreographers Sally Gross, Alexandra Beller and Gerald Casel for three extraordinary modern dance companies, accompanied by other recent pieces for guitar, percussion and electronics.
Its imaginative soundscapes represent a departure from Poss’ dense, wall-of-distortion guitar-and-electronic solo pieces and from the ecstatic Rock minimalism of Band Of Susans, yet threads of both are evident in this latest release.
1986 (Trace Elements Records)
(with NICOLAS COLLINS)
1988 (Trace Elements Records)
DISTORTION IS TRUTH
2002 (Trace Elements Records)
CROSSING CASCO BAY
2004 (Trace Elements Records)
SETTINGS - MUSIC FOR DANCE, FILM, FASHION AND INDUSTRY
2010 (Trace Elements Records)
v/a - PURE AND PAINLESS PLEASURES
1988 (John Doe Recordings)
v/a - BRING THE NOISE
v/a - ECLECTIC GUITARS
1996 (Unknown Public) ("Nagasaki Bells")
v/a - FOR ALL THE URLS I'VE LOVED
v/a - I NEVER META GUITAR (FOUR) produced by Elliott Sharp
2017 (Clean Feed)