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  • Filed under: Review
  • 06/25/2012

Polysick Digital Native

On Digital Native, the "first proper album" by Polysick, Italian hardware obsessive Egisto Sopor (or Paul Kersex, depending on where you look) presents a wide array of synth-centric music, ranging from lush ambient compositions to unhinged flurries of noise to squelching acid workouts to retro-minded techno jams. It's a smattering of analog sounds that the producer has spent years quietly perfecting on small releases for labels like 100% Silk and Legowelt's Strange Life imprint, and he presents them on his LP for Planet Mu in some of their finest forms yet. But with 15 tracks clocking in at a full hour, Polysick's album is also his longest release to date, which presents an obstacle for any listener with a short attention span and a less-than-insatiable taste for modular synth noodling.

It's not that Digital Native lacks compelling sounds, or that its producer meditates on a single idea for too long; some of the record's best qualities are its diverse style flirtations and its reliably succinct track times. From the onset, "Totem" quickly delivers rickety beats and a host of ambling melodies with a loungy vibe, which is soon after complemented by the immersive synthscapes of "Taito" and "Loading..." and followed up with further explorations into the worlds of rounded drum-machine rhythms and noxious analog tones. Sopor switches back and forth between his more beat-driven work and his more formless pieces, as well as varying production lengths, throughout Digital Native. At first, the constant shapeshifting might be interesting, as Polysick delivers early-'90s IDM, '70s-referencing kosmiche music, Moroder-influenced jam sessions, and vaguely new-age interludes. Shortly after the midpoint of Polysick's album, however, its apparent lack of structure grows more and more dissatisfying.

"Drowse," "Worldcup," and "Gondwana" are among the more memorable of the 15 tracks, productions that—despite not following any kind of obvious arc—seem to be slowly going somewhere instead of swirling around and wafting about stagnantly. "Transpelagic" is an alluring nine-minute jam that evokes the disorienting techno experiments heard on Autechre's Incunabula, which is particularly good company to keep, but it's immediately followed by what might be Digital Native's worst cut, closing track "Smudge, Hawaii." A brief tune composed of a flat disco rhythm, a playful bassline, and a wavering synth drone, it sounds something like a Casio SK-1 demo song if it was drunk-dancing alone at the end of a party, all sloppy and smarmy in its efforts to convince you to take it home. Polysick's choice to close his LP in this manner is a curious one, partially because there are plenty of more worthy send-off tunes on Digital Native and partially because it's the only one that sounds so dully brainless. But then, in context, it also makes some sense: There is basically no rhyme or reason to this album other than its existence as a collection of random—albeit well-made—recordings crafted by a guy with some cool vintage gear. Outside of that, Digital Native is missing a large amount of the substance and general cohesiveness that any artist's "first proper album" should rightly offer, and winds up coming off more like Sopor purging his hard drive than a new artist confidently staking his claim on your listening rotation.

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