Digital Native is an odd name for Polysick’s debut LP. To start with, the album is an all-analog effort, 15 meandering, burbling modular creations. Does that make the title of the record ironic? A statement? Tongue-in-cheek?
The minimal, pulsing loops at work in songs like “Lost Holidays” (which, at under two minutes, is more of a snippet of a song compared to slow-burners like “Transpelagic” or “Preda”) match the understated psychedelia of Polysick’s visual artwork. The Italian hardware fiddler has contributed to the richly colorful and blurry video pieces by the AAVV collective, whose pieces tend to ebb and flow and flicker like a pastiche of VHS-era nostalgia. The eddying notes in tracks like “Drowse” call forth AAVV’s palettes of blended, lo-fi imagery: Parts of the piece exist in sharp, realistic clarity (the waterfall in the video for “Juno,” every third note in “Drowse”), while other elements appear smudged or comically low-tech (the glowing stick figures in “Juno,” the escalating melody in “Totem”).
Although Polysick intended to stir up “a sense of mystery and danger” with the “swirling flutes and timpani rolls” in Digital Native, the LP thrives in its sunlight, its tempered brilliance and its peaceful, focused energies. “Woods” and “Tic-Tac Toe” are as dangerous as the record gets: The former finds Polysick tossing alien-like notes through puddles of reverb to create an unnerving, jagged dizziness, while the latter launches descending screeches through ominous synth hoots.
When it comes to Planet Mu, Kuedo‘s bass-heavy doomsday tunes probably take the cake, but Polysick might have the crown for attention to detail. Like fellow 100% Silk-turned-Mu producer Ital, Polysick displays a nerdish devotion to subtleties, like creating rhythms without beats and overlaying field recordings under a mix. It’s the kind of attention to detail afforded by digital technology and programs that allow producers to fine-tune and chip away at sine waves to form their perfectly tailored sounds. Polysick is a “digital native” in that sense: the hardware whiz who probably spends hours tinkering with the endless settings of his vintage Rolands.