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  Mr Pharmacist  

I went to graduate school in south Florida during the nineties. Down on South Beach, the chirpy sounds of incessant and often insipid electronic dance music that bombarded me from every ecstasy fueled dive still ring my head. I learned quick to hate electronic music. It just seemed mind numbing. Only a drug soaked brain could dig those boring metronome beats, seemed to me. Part of my disdain came from not only youth, but the disappointment that all the possibility in electronic stuff wasn't being realized. It was just a bunch of beats in a rut. To my mind, the potential of electric instruments to transcend the limitations of their more earth bound acoustic counterparts had not been reached. Judging from the stuff I was being punished with, nobody was trying.

Cut to now. First off, I had no idea that composers like Xenakis, Stockhausen, and others were making serious electronic compositions before I was born. Didn't have a clue about the history of electro-acoustic music either. Those pioneers of techno, dance and noise (Coil, Throbbing Gristle, Meat Beat Manifesto, etc) were likewise part of my ignorance. At least on the fringe, electronic music has and is stretching to meet potential.

Polestar is part of that stretch, probably best filed under the label Intelligent Dance Music (IDM to those in the know). IDM is a branch of electronica that mixes a bit of dissonance and complexity into the beats, while maintaining some semblance of melody. There are extremes, say most recent Autechre, where abstraction pushes the complexity into the unhuman. Polestar stay on the shallower end of the pool. This is atmospheric and maximally ambient music, danceable while steering clear of dumb. Heck it even says on the CD face "melodic electronic music."

The four tracks on Camplex run the gambit of light to darker. It starts with a skittering beat and melodic repetition. Instead of a monochrome thump, there's an unfolding texture that keeps the inner eye interested. The nether-regions get fed, too. There's a funkiness, a danceability that sneaks through again and again. This is particularly true on the final track, with a darker edge racing the pulse. On the second track there's even a bit of Debussy to put the Intelligent into IDM. By golly, the combo works! In fact, every selection bears repeated listening and, with a good sense of composition behind it, extra listens are rewarded.

In sum, this is nice little sample of electronic potential, loving released on the Boltfish label. Doesn't leap ahead to the edge like more innovative contemporaries. Certainly doesn't embarrass either. This being an EP, I was left wanting more and wondering what a full platter might sound like. No better compliment then that, no?

Related Links:

Polestar on the web.


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