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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

SubVersion Stop 6: Polar - In The End LP (Warm Communications)

Artwork credits: khoma @ khomatech.com

Their initial LP project, Warm Communications and experimentation go together ala TV and video: one broadcasts forward-thinking ideals, the other embeds itself in the recordings of the past catalogue. His first in six years, the Scandinavian's co-produced, recovered-from-tinnitus comeback album - what's enthralling is how good it turned out.

Syncopated powerhouse "Almost And Beyond" opens boldly, melodically nodding to "37 Degrees And Falling" Polar on Certificate 18. "End Of The Story" ties delicate vocal samples to a sly, heavy-suction drum section, and chirping, whirling atmospherics, coming off like the ghost of Ed Rush & Optical (when they were good) slipping through a contemporaneous wormhole, filtered through a cheesegrater and displaying the subtle, sinister funk that won over so many fans originally. "Another Time" prolongs this theme, with a bassline that wriggles like a wild snake through a maze of long grass. Busy on the percussion, big on quirkiness, it escapes triteness by a level of attentiveness that is signature to Polar productions.

"Nothing Personal" conjures imagery of Boards Of Canada and Autechre sharing seats on a gut-churning rollercoaster, only to be strapped in by Luke Vibert, handed chocolate milkshake and honest synth squiggles. The result is a sublime mix of off-kilter harmonics and dribbling digital synthesis.

"I Don't Remember" collides its intricate details akin to dodgem cars in an egg whisker, the drums accentuating the glitch-punctuated compartments of sound throughout. "Rendition", all space-age synth ditties, is the pick of the collection - if your agenda is to have drums incorporated as a major part of the cut. This and "High Voltage" are vintage Polar, employing intermingling textures with some superbly chopped, "tighten up" tenacity.

"In The Middle Of Somewhere" is "Out Of The Blue"-esque Polar fattened up and simplified, but here still maintaining your interest by its quality of ingredients - it's music beyond just a DJ tool; also thanks to its shorter-than-five-minutes length. "3 Liter" is a near continuation of once-album-of-the-week-at-boomkat producer Naphta's "Are You Ready", if it was dipped in a lagoon of syrup - this concoction oozes vitality and poise above the sub cushion. "Static", one of three downtempo cuts on this digital release, offers an inexorable hiphop bounce. "Stepping Out" is, not surprisingly, a militant stepper tune, but collates just as much subtlety as its peers, rinsing out the two-step break but never sounding too regimented or contrived.

These tracks, built like throbbing nuclei, are elementally leftfield, however never too bulky for the litmus test. So becomes "Uneven", filled with gangster electricity that's part horror movie, part Tron - like the rest of the LP, its construction is easy to follow, yet deviant, the message luxuriously translated, the sentiments easy to relate to. As an accompanying bonus to "Lo-Fi Epilogue", you'll get the seductive "Chula".

As with an empty suitcase, the contents are awaiting to be taken somewhere exotic, but not to serve as hollow exoticisation; all saccharine show with no natural salt and pepper. In the end, here, Polar has created recordings that challenge the listener's expectations, but also have the audacity to appeal to the jaded junglist - or rather, armchair socialist contingent; complaining of no beats shaped for the dancefloor as well as headphones. It's like an unworn dressing gown when you're fresh out the shower: warm, inviting and stable. And as such, is highly recommended.

Purchase: Mp3 release
Dogs On Acid: support thread
Warm Communications: MySpace

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