Poor Genetic Material are not named very well. Genetics plays a huge role in the success of this band and are anything but poor. The band is led by vocalist Philipp Griffiths who is the son of Martin Griffiths, formerly of Beggars Opera. “Absence” finds father joining son as co-vocalists. Needless to say, the vocals on this album are definitely a major highlight.
Stylistically, the band veer from the Floydian two part title track epics to the more straight ahead approach of tracks like “Chalkhill Blues,” “What If…?” and “Lost in Translation.” Of the shorter songs, the latter is by far my favorite song on the whole album with phenomenal vocals and the strongest hook of any track. On the flipside the vocals on “Chalkhill Blues” are a bit too enunciated and the music just never gets my attention.
That tends to be the case through out the album. For each excellent moment, there is another moment that falls a bit flat. The intro of “Absence – Part 1” tends to go on a bit but it does build and take off. The problem is the song takes an odd turn that feels a tad awkward to me. The second part is over 18 minutes and while I love long tracks, the key to them working is to not FEEL like they are long. Sadly, I find myself feeling it goes on a bit too long.
Musically, the band are great players with flutist Pia Darmstaedter adding a beauty to anything she plays. While drummer Dominik Steinbacher is a good player, he never pushes the songs at all. In fact, his playing feels passive and his fills have little flair. A band is only as good as their drummer and I wish Steinbacher would attack once in a while. Just my preference of course.
Poor Genetic Material play a nice mix of 80s neo-prog and modern prog with excellent vocals and sturdy musicianship. Given the father and son team leading PGM have a ton of talent between them, one can’t help but expect even better things from them down the road. For now, “Absence” is a solid album that definitely has an audience for it in the prog community.
1. Absence – Part 1
2. What If?
3. Lost In Translation
4. Chalkhill Blues
6. Absence – Part 2