Poison Arrow and the Captivating Underworld of Desire
It was almost exactly seven years ago when I inexplicably received a white label vinyl pressing of an unfinished electro song I would soon become obsessed with. There was no return address, just the name “Poison Arrow” scrawled next to the threatening title: If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Cut Your Face). Any information I learned about the artist online seemed to raise more questions than it answered, with a backstory that remains impossible to separate fact from fiction.
The name Poison Arrow seemingly references a controversial character from Roman Mythology said to be the forgotten daughter of Venus. Referenced by her Latin name “Venenum Spiculum” in an early version of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, then subsequently stricken from publication by order of Emperor Augustus, she is described as a seductive but malicious figure who draws people into a captivating underworld of desire from which they seldom escape. Providing stark contrast to her beloved brother Cupid, the blackened quiver she wears symbolizes depravity, her bow trickery, her arrows poison. Where her cherubic sibling represents love at its most idealistic, Poison Arrow represents the thrill of running towards something that you know might harm you.
The artist’s early years can be traced to Colombia, where each village seems to have their own version of an embellished life that became staple of Musica de Carrilera (tr. Railway Music), a regional folk scene spawned from the Colombian coffee axis that provided catharsis from the hardship and sometimes violent existence of peasant life. Her legend was sung within the welcoming brothels where she spent her formative years; the most notable being “Casa Show”, which is featured prominently on this latest release. Stories about Poison Arrow within these places are as commonplace as lust, and often blur the lines between this transient artist and the mythological figure that inspired her name.
Scattered proof of her existence outside of Columbia is limited to a handful of avant garde art exhibitions, most notably in London and Berlin, though any photos show her wearing a veil and remaining cloaked in shadows. None of the people who claimed to know her were particularly credible, and soon my investigation went cold. This of course made it nothing less than shocking when I recently received a familiar package in the mail. Unlike the white label I received years before, the photographic sleeve indicated a mass release. Upon playing the record I was presented with the unforgettable lyrical refrain of the demo, “if you don’t love me then i’ll cut your face, with the razor blade I use to shave my legs”, but the backing music had evolved as if her bow was more tightly drawn.
The mix she inspired includes a song from Poison Arrow’s official debut, as well as the original unreleased demo I was sent years ago that was turned into the music video featured below. The music in-between acts as a musical seance to conjure the illusive songstress and to be willingly lead into her captivating underworld of desire.
Poison Arrow – Casa Show
C.A.R. – Daughters
Faun Racket – Calling the Force
Pussy Mothers – Get From In Front Of Me
DVA Damas – In the Clear
Beta Evers – Kait
Andrea Parker – Melodious Thunk
Alva Noto – Uni Tra
Genevieve Pasquier – Fairy Tale
Greie Gut Fraktion – Wir Bauen Eine Neue Stadt
The Knife – One Hit
Fahrland – Plastic People
David Last – Physical Value System
Poison Arrow – If You Don’t Love Me (Cut Your Face) (Unreleased Demo)
Matthew Herbert – You’re Unknown To Me