Polyphasic, The Map is Not the Territory

Given the artists’ stated intent to create “…sort of a fake science-fiction movie soundtrack,” it may be unfortunately appropriate that I find myself often fast-forwarding through the low points of Polyphasic’s The Map is Not the Territory to get to the good parts.

The problem, largely, is that the pieces here tend to come off as too mechanical and angular for my tastes, too strictly programmed to be more naturally engaging. The disc has an old, laboratorial sound to it, like early electronic recordings designed to show ordinary folk what synthesizers could do. Let me balance that out by noting that I enjoy (and have recently enjoyed) discs that have an old-school feel to them, but smoothed with a modern edge. Jeffrey Koepper, Moebius and Ministry of Inside Things come quickly to mind. There is a difference to the feel of the thing made new and, when you get down to it, the ponderous thing itself. Several tracks into The Map... I find myself wanting something that feels like someone’s got their hands on the keys.

When Polyphasic go for a more minimal, drone-based approach, the work captures my attention more. The stretch that runs from “8F” through “What I Really Like Is Music” is the best section of the disc. In “8F,” thick, distorted chords pound out an almost military cadence as pads wash over them. Across the course of the piece, the higher points of the sound come down, soften and take on a calmer tone. “What I Really Like…” issues forth as a white-sound wind with hints of texture buried in the flow and develops from there, never striving for more than minimal change–and it works. “Zerzassenquez” has a simliar brain-softening effect.

Listeners more into unvarnished electronic music than I might find more to love here. And since you can download the CD for five bucks at Bandcamp, it’s at least worth your time to check out samples.

Find it here.

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