If you’ve never heard Poly-Math before; whatever you do, don’t read other press for this album. Sensational claims and overused PR buzz words like ‘powerhouse’, ‘shattering’ and ‘Brighton’ feature all too often and you’ll close the tab in disgust before you’ve even given it a chance. Best just to check out the new single Ekerot. If you are reading this and have heard Poly-Math’s previous work, you’ve obviously already ordered Melencolia, so just read on and wait it out.
RELEASE DATE: 08 April 2016 LABEL: Superstar Destroyer Records
Dovetailed with a soothing low-fi groove (is that a lute?), that fades out like a radio breaking up as you drive out of range; the beginning and end of Melencolia show what is perhaps an alter ego of the band. Although Poly-Math have quite a few musical personas that change at will, there’s a suggestion here that Poly-Math have developed their own distinct personality from the chaotic sound of past releases. In truth both the intro and outro are sonic interpretations of, and references to, the titles of the opening and closing tracks; Melencolia l & The Temptation of the Idler, both titles borrowed from famous geometry laden engravings by renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer. The specificity of detail to the album theme should give you a hint of what Poly-Math are all about.
Melencolia is a mini-album, featuring only three songs but a generous 35 minutes and 27 seconds of music. Maybe five minutes more and this is a full length, but the way these songs are presented suggest adding another could be a huge undertaking. Each title features two or three distinct movements that could almost be songs themselves, and where Poly-Math succeed is in blending these movements to make a cohesive, flowing work. You don’t get the sense that there are 3-4 songs without endings under the same title; changes feel natural and controlled, creating as immersive an atmosphere as math-rock can offer.
The composition and musicianship on Melencolia isn’t as unpredictable or erratic as their previous releases: they’ve lost a bit of the ‘math’ in favour of a more concentric sound, but this is much to their advantage. Melencolia has the accomplished, coherent sound that previous releases hinted at, while still being a hugely creative and interesting listen. You can actually hear the confidence and clarity coming through your speakers.
Sonically, Melencolia is very well presented. At no time are you drawn out of the experience by rogue elements or a bad balance, and the dynamic shifts between sections is handled well. In particular the spidery guitar noodles during the first few movements of third track Temptation of the Idler, the swift change into giant riffs is immensely satisfying. Just like an ‘ear-shattering, bowel-trembling powerhouse from Brighton’ should sound. Each instrument has it’s moment in the spotlight but my attention was caught mostly by the guitar style, which flits between wildly inventive and simply dreamy, with ease and composure.
Melencolia is the best music Poly-Math have released, and is an obvious step up for the band; which is saying quite a lot really as their previous work is amazing. They’ve embraced the more mellow side of their influences, focused on composition over difficulty, and come up with something original and compelling. The reduced length actually compliments the music well as you are left wanting more once the album splutters to an end. They’re from Brighton, guys.