POLYHYMNIΔ: C▲† L▲DY / ΞND †IMΞS
C▲† L▲DY / ΞND †IMΞS
In POLYHYMNIΔ’s album C▲† L▲DY / ΞND †IMΞS (Cat Lady / End Times) the thoughtful caresses of doubt and anxiety sift through the humming synths and self-described future garage rhythm style (similar to Dubstep’s R&B tinge) to fuse together a house mentality with a darker ambient quality. When I listen to this style of music, it’s all about what subtle changes are made and how they affect the mood and landscape of the music. You can feel the rise and fall of depression here, especially in songs like (what I’m going to shorten to) [Never Forget], the seventh and best track. POLYHYMNIΔ’s raw emotion shines throughout the piece and when it doesn’t, it seems purposefully so on tracks like [No Amount of Coffee] which shows that no matter how much you fill your life, whatever problems are bothering you, they are always right under the surface.
One of my favorite tracks is the second [A Memory Approacheth] which utilizes the same bleak beats with a fantastic, cyclical melody that at once comes off as innocent and jaded. [The Wind and the Woe] is also a standout track with translucent instrumentation and the same industrial rhythm this time stirred with a frosty, buzzy synth. The end breaks down into a beautiful piano solo which runs into the next track unresolved. [Changes], the track featuring vocalist Bijou Win†ers, also merits mention in that for the only song to have lyrics, they are barely intelligible. Unless that’s what they were going for, I found it to be annoying. What little straightforward meaning there is in this ambient album should be conveyed by what little lyrics are here. Safe to say that they were beautifully interpreted, her voice is demonic in the best sort of way, but I want more clarity from this pivotal track. The music feels Eastern, say Indian or Persian, and trippily her voice influences the music to this end.
The album then switches gears slowly, delving deeper into the depression. The titular track is weird. Muffled tones of speech and organ touches accompany another austere rhythm. But the next track is gold. At this point, the album is starting to exhaust you and it feels intentional. This depression is wearying and it seems to homage Tolstoy-esque melancholia. The archetype of this album is finally achieved here, bringing together all the different moments from the tracks before it to fuse into a grand moment of dark, all-encompassing sadness.
The next track, a collaboration with Drowning the Colossus, is a Catholic mass, broken by clanging percussion and cocking gun sounds. It begins to sound militaristic and fatalistic like a final march to the gallows. Minimal until the last moments when the melody raptures the listener into the last throws of depression. In the last seconds the darkest part passes and hope begins to intrude on the music. Each note seemingly darkening the chord until the last note is added in a beautiful reach toward the sky. A gorgeous melody-driven piano piece closes the album with percussion that isn’t overbearing but complementary. It fades into what can only be a new chapter in the artist’s life.
Cat Lady / End Times is simply sincere music made from the raw emotion of a heart newly broken. That first heart break is disastrous, bleak, confusing. This album not only calls to mind those feelings but implodes them aurally. The beats are clinical and bleak while the music is lush and beautiful, a perfect juxtaposition. Overall, this album is well made by a budding musician, simplistic and even naïve on many occasions, and suffering from the tendency to emote with little pretension or allusion. It bodes well for the man known as Polyhymnia to make music this affective so young. It comes recommended as an inspirational piece for anyone interested in the underground world of Witch House and any interest in ambient or indie music.
On a side note, for my readers more interested in JPop, I direct you to Utada Hikaru’s Kremlin Dusk as a note of reference for this type of music. The Mars Volta drummer lays down a terrific beat and a dark, Poe-inspired lyric moves this scalar music. Also, if you are more pop-minded, the darkest tracks on Rihanna’s Rated R will also do. It is important to note a definite nod to Koda’s work which I’ve reviewed before here on Who’s Afraid of Music?.
Below is an impromptu interview I staged with Polyhymnia’s own Daniel Geraci:
Daniel, what inspired you to write this album?
The album is first and foremost my way of exploring what I’ve learned about music already and what I would like to learn. It was kind of a step away from what I usually come up with. It’s heavily inspired by Koda and Burial. The whole future garage drum style is something I’ve always kept an eye on and loved. I realized after meeting Koda that there was much I could learn from him. These tracks are me playing with newly acquired knowledge. Most of the tracks are inspired by personal events occurring my life.
The song titles are very long, is there a reason you left them as such?
Song titles are my least favorite part, honestly. Some of the titles reflect how the tracks feel to me. Some of the titles are just plain silly.
Where does the name POLYHYMNIΔ come from and is there a reason for the different characters?
In Greek mythology Polyhymnia is the Muse of sacred poetry and hymn. Polyhymnia O’Keefe is also the protagonist in a series of books that I love by Madeleine L’Engle. Some of my first tracks as POLYHYMNIΔ were subtle references to this series. The Δ in my name is a nod to the Witch House movement. It’s safe to say that my music is influenced by Witch House.
Your music is very bright and polished. Who are your influences?
It’s hard to pin this one down. I enjoy a wide array of music, some of which doesn’t even come close to what I produce. Influences for this project, if I were to say, include: Burial, Koda, Ʌ (Arc), oOoOO, Björk, BL▲CK CEILING, Fever Ray, and James Blake.
Where are you from?
I was born in Sarasota but moved to Tallahassee when I was six years old. Everything I remember is Tallahassee.
Could you describe the music culture of Tallahassee?
Tallahassee’s is all about DIY music. I play in a couple ska-punk bands and go to local shows all the time. There is a lovely community here of independent musicians and they inspire my musical progress in general. Electronic music in Tallahassee seems to be a little different. Definitely leaning towards the mainstream, however we are beginning to see a change in that with events such as Open House Conspiracy hosted by Khan Kurra.
I sense a little R&B in your music, am I correct? Has Tallahassee inspired that or has that always been an undertone in your music?
Who doesn’t love R&B? You could say there are some subtle nods to the style, not much of it is incredibly intentional, it just kind of happened. Tallahassee is musically inspiring. However, these kinds of digital works are more so inspired by people I’ve met around the world, the Internet and the eclectic, underground styles of music I’ve uncovered via the Internet.
When did you first start writing music?
I briefly dabbled in French horn in middle school, and started producing electronic music when I was 12 years old. The last couple years have started picking up pace for me and I’m beginning to love the music I write. I play drums, ukulele and sing in various local bands.
What other artists should we be looking out for on Fluorescent and other labels?
We have a wide collection of releases coming out, and that’s just summer. Definitely keep an eye on Bijou Win†ers. She is featured on my album as well as Koda’s. Her first EP will be released within the next few days. We also have Khan Kurra, who is king at atmospheric bass music, releasing an album this month. Be on the look out for our summer compilation in July, which will introduce some new artists as well as our usual residents. This compilation, titled Summer Vacation, will be paying respects to witch and industrial music, while also expanding on some styles our artists are exploring. If you haven’t already, check out our sister label Aural Sects. They recently released “Waves” by VS//YOUTHCLUB which in my opinion is a must have album for summer.
Could you give me a little more information on Witch House?
You should add Regina Spektor to that influence section. She’s literally my main influence. Here is a decent read on witch house:
Your album has a lot of personal value in it, chord progressions and such that speak of love and loss. Am I on the right track here? I’d hate to pull the wrong idea about this album.
You’re on the right path.
Baby, I was born this way? Any other nuggets of information?
The songs are mostly subtle nods to how I’m feeling. I leave it open and cryptic but occasionally the song names point in the direction I want.
Yeah, those song titles are beasts! I’m shortening them on my iTunes so I can get to them in my car with speech commands. I guess those Witch House people weren’t kidding when they were meaning for it to be kept underground. You can’t even google that shit unless you copy and paste the song titles. Does it matter to you that it’s hard to find your music?
No, it doesn’t. I like the community I’m a part of. I’m exploring myself musically.
Do you see yourself as more of a behind-the-scenes producer type or as a celebrity artist?
Behind the scenes. I’m already involved in four bands. This is just another extension of me.
I assumed as much, actually. You have your hands in a lot of things. And you don’t seem to want the attention like those types usually do. You’re very down-to-earth.
I’m excited to read this.
And I was just as excited to write it. Available for free download from the Fluorescent Records site:
Remember: check it out, like it, reblog it, share it, retweet it, but definitely read it.
- Who’s Afraid of Music?