Robert Poss


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Robert Poss [and Band Of Susans] strum power chords and tremoloes that resonate until they fill a room with overtones, octave upon octave, chiming and buzzing and shimmering with forceful grandeur."
-Jon Pareles, The New York Times

"Poss' performance was a handsome demonstration of the relativity of the term 'improvisation.' What might have initially seemed like random wailing quickly became an event that bore witness to the presence of a deep knowledge and control of the instrument....The result was a massive heaping of electronic sound, a synthetic sonic bundle that you could cut with a knife."
-Jacqueline Oskamp, De Groene Amsterdammer

"Adamantly arty, these New York subversives have since 1986 never lost faith in hypnotic guitar....Robert Poss and Susan Stenger prevail with dronefests rich in texture and heavy with stream-of-consciousness musings....The radical strategy pays off in music that is brainy, visceral and bracing."
-Rolling Stone Magazine

"Unsung heroes in pop's gender wars, The Band Of Susans have surpassed the challenges put down by successive Downtown minimalists: the No New York groups, composers Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca. The result: the best guitar rock of the '80's."
-Mojo (U.K.)

Robert Poss fell in love with electric guitars and basses in 1964 at an age when he still believed one plugged them directly into a wall socket. He memorized the Fender Catalog and passed through a succession of rock and blues cover bands before discovering punk in the late 70's and staring to write, record and release his own material. He joined Rhys Chatham's ensemble in the early 80's 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-1970's. 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 Band of Susans in 1986, and his early experiments became the foundation of their sound. Band of Susans went on to release two EPs and five LPs (all produced by Poss) before disbanding in 1995. Interviewed in The Wire magazine, Steve Albini stated that "I think Robert an enormously under- rated 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." Poss has also performed and recorded solo, and with Bruce Gilbert, Phill Niblock, David Dramm, Alva Rogers, and Ben Neill, among others, and has produced records by Combine, Tone and Skulpey in addition to Band of Susans.

Recordings: Band Of Susans: "Blessing And Curse" (Trace Elements Records, 1987 and Furthur Records [U.K.], 1987); "Hope Against Hope" (Blast First U.S. and Furthur Records [U.K.], 1988); "Love Agenda" (Blast First/Restless Records, 1989); "Nothing Short Of Total War" (Blast First label compilation) (Blast First 1989); "The Word And The Flesh" (Rough Trade Germany/ Restless Records, 1991); "The Peel Sessions" (Strange Fruit/Dutch East India, 1992) "Surprise Your Pig" (R.E.M. tribute with other artists) (Stapegun Records, 1992); "Now" (Restless/Rough Trade Germany, 1992); "Veil" (Restless/Rough Trade Germany, 1993); "Wired For Sound - Band Of Susans 1986-1993" (Blast First/Rough Trade Germany, 1995); "Here Comes Success" (Restless/Blast First/Rough Trade Germany, 1995); "Whore" (Wire tribute with other artists) (WMO/Caroline, 1996). Robert Poss/Susan Stenger: "Deconstruct" (Compilation with other artists) (Blast First/Disobey, 1994). GilbertPossStenger: "Manchester-London" (WMO, 2000). Robert Poss: "Distortion Is Truth/Crossing Casco Bay"(Trace Elements Records, 2002); "Sometimes" (Trace Elements Records, 1986). Rhys Chatham: "Die Donnergotter" (Dossier Records, 1987; Homestead Records, 1989). Nicolas Collins: "Going Out With Slow Smoke" (Lovely Music, 1982); "Let The State Make The Selection" (Trace Elements Records, 1984); "100 Of The World's Most Beautiful Melodies" (Trace Elements Records, 1989); "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night" (Trace Elements Records, 1992). Robert Poss and Nicolas Collins: "Inverse Guitar" (Trace Elements Records, 1988). Ben Neill: "Mainspring" (Dossier/Ear-Rational, 1988); "Automotive" (Six Degrees Records, 2002). Phill Niblock: "Guitar Too, For Four" (Moikai, 2001). Various Artists: "Pure And Painless Pleasures (John Doe Recordings, 1988); "Bring The Noise" (LowLife, 1989); "Eclectic Guitars" compilation -- contribution: "Nagasaki Bells" (Unknown Public, 1996). When People Were Shorter And Lived Near The Water: "Bobby" (Shimmy Disc, 1989). Tot Rocket: "Reduced/Fun Fades Fast" (Whiplash Records, 1979); "Eviction" (Trace Elements Records, 1980); "Security Risk" (Trace Elements Records, 1982). Western Eyes: "Western Eyes" (Trace Elements Records, 1984).

Selected Performances: The Kitchen, Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, The World, The Ritz, Roulette, The Cooler, Tonic, Brooklyn Anchorage, The Knitting Factory, CBGB, Max's Kansas City, Experimental Intermedia Foundation, Exit Art, The Marquee, The Clocktower, Dance Theater Workshop, PASS, The Ohio Theater, Under Acme, The Cat Club, Coney Island High, Limbo Lounge, 8BC, Beowulf, Federal Hall, Bond's, A7, 2+2, New York University, Trax (New York City); The South Bank Centre, Town And Country, The Mean Fiddler, Fulham Greyhound, National Ballroom, The Underworld, The Venue (London, England); The Venue, Queen's Hall (Edinburgh, Scotland); The Venue (Glasgow, Scotland); The Hummingbird, The Barrel Organ (Birmingham, England); The Corn Exchange (Cambridge, England); International II (Manchester, England); The Riverside (Newcastle, England); Royal Centre (Liverpool, England); Leeds Polytechnic, The Duchess Of York (Leeds, England); The University (Southampton, England); Rock City (Nottingham, England); Poll Hill (Bedford, England); The Leadmill, Take Two Club (Sheffield, England); Oliver's (Chester, England); Roskilde Festival (Roskilde, Denmark); 1000 Fyrd (Alborg, Denmark); Ballhaus, Loft, Huxleys, Pfefferberg (Berlin, Germany); Fabrik, Markthalle (Hamburg, Germany); Brückenmusik, Rose Club, Stadtgarden (Cologne, Germany); Negativ (Frankfurt, Germany) Starclub (Dresden, Germany) Waschhaus (Potsdam, Germany); ARS Electronica Festival (Linz, Austria); U4, Wuk, Bach (Vienna, Austria); Festival Alternativa, Bunkr (Prague, Czech Republic); U Club (Bratislava, Slovakia); Grand Theatre (Groningen, The Netherlands); Korzo Theatre (Den Haag, The Netherlands); Utrecheschool (Utrecht, The Netherlands); Bimhuis, Melkveg, Paradiso (Amsterdam, The Netherlands); Gigant (Apeldoorn, The Netherlands); Vlerk, De Unie (Rotterdam, The Netherlands); Magasinet (Gothenburg, Sweden); Kulturhuset (Orebro, Sweden); Smalandsnationen (Lund, Sweden); KB (Malmo, Sweden); Studio (Stockhom, Sweden); L'Usine (Geneva, Switzerland); Democrazy (Ghent, Belgium); Maxwell's (Hoboken, NJ); Portland Center for the Visual Arts, Pine Street Theatre, Satyricon (Portland, OR); Soundworks, Central Tavern (Seattle, WA); Berkeley Square (Berkeley, CA); The I-Beam (San Francisco, CA); Club Lingerie (Los Angeles, CA); Spirit (San Diego, CA); Bogart's (Long Beach, CA); Cabaret Metro, Cubby Bear, Lounge Ax (Chicago, IL); First Avenue, Seventh Street Entry (Minneapolis, MN); Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT); Ron's Place, The Grotto (New Haven, CT); Nightshift Cafe (Naugatuck, CT); The Pink Flamingo, The Continental, Nietzsche's, The Pipe Dragon (Buffalo, NY); The Paradise, Ground Zero, T.T. The Bear's, Man Ray, Greene Street Station, The Rat (Boston, MA); University of Michigan, The Blind Pig (Ann Arbor, MI); J.C. Dobbs, Chestnut Cabaret (Philadelphia, PA); Peabody's Down Under (Cleveland, OH); Stache's (Columbus, OH); Eagles Hall, Odd Rock Cafe (Milwaukee, WI); University of Wisconsin, O'Cayz (Madison, Wisconsin); 930 Club (Washington, D.C.); The Sun Club (Tempe, AZ); Pyramid Club (Oklahoma City, OK); Harling's (Kansas City, MO); Cicero's (St. Louis, MO); Cotton Club (Atlanta, GA); The 40 Watt (Athens, GA); The Flood Zone (Richmond, VA); Juanita's (Little Rock, AR); Cannibal Club (Austin, TX); The Brewery (Raleigh, NC); RPM, Lee's Palace, Apocalypse Club (Toronto, Ontario); Fou Founes Electriques, Club Soda (Montreal, Quebec).


Band Of Susans

G&L Guitars

Susan Stenger's Web Page

Tot Rocket

Tape Op article

More Links


Blast First, 1987


Tot Rocket at Max's



Susan Stenger, Karen Haglof, Ron Spitzer, Robert Poss, Page Hamilton (1989)

BOS Live in London

New York City 1981


Recording The Word And The Flesh




Ben Neill, Rhys Chatham, Robert Poss (1987)

BOS live at the U Club - Bratislava, Slovakia (Photo: Brano Vincze)

BOS BBC Peel Sessions amps (London)

1995: Bruce Gilbert (Wire) + Robert Poss (BOS) + Susan Stenger (BOS)

Band of Susans 1988
Susan Tallman, Robert Poss, Susan Stenger, Ron Spitzer, Susan Lyall (Photo: Bob Marshak)


Susan Stenger and Robert Poss (Photo: Michael Lavine)

Backstage in the '70s: Susan Stenger, Robert Poss, Ron Spitzer in the mirror

First B.O.S. gig - The Love Club (1987)


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