POLARIS – Polaris CD-R
I’ve heard of the name and maybe had seen them live a couple times but when a few friends asked me, “how do they sound like eh?”, I would go, “I forgot la.” Well, this time the band made sure I would not forget, they gave me a copy of this “promo” yesterday at the Domestik Doktrin benefit show.
Anyway, there are three tracks here, all recorded at I-Seek Music, packed in a nicely designed sleeve and stickered CD-R. As a bonus, there are three video clips taken live in a studio and also live at Paul’s Place during the New Chapter gig recently.
So how do they sound like la? How about “muso post-rock prog”. Muso, since all three musicians here are really good musicians who are partial to odd timings, unexpected twists and turns in the chord progression department, lengthy jams with stop-on-a-dime breaks and such “terrer” exploits that are usually associated with the late-90s math/prog-rock you hear a lot on the American indie scene.
I’m not a huge fan of such genre unless it is coupled with a bit of jagged, angular post-punk intensity (the recent visiting Australians My Disco, for instance). The more “mellow” ones which I dig totally will be MSAYA (Japan) and also Don Caballero, bands who are around the fringes of avant-rock, but Polaris is far from these guys really.
In a way you can slot these guys in with local bands such as KLPHQ, MUZE and Sgt. Weener’s Arms; all of which sound different to another, are enjoyable in some doses live but can be gratingly unmemorable and faceless at other times. Playing instrumental is kinda hit and miss with me as I can’t stand slick precision rock much, I need that dirty slack recklessness. But of course, this sort of approach is a real refreshing change to the usual dirge of three-chord cycle we experience 99% of the time in the scene. However, I would prefer something maniacally weird rather than pedestrian post-rock.
Two tracks here are instrumentals while the last one features vocals by Wan (MUZE). The first is called Pungent Goldmine and it hints at Mars Volta but pretty bereft of the more outlandish nu-psychedelic ideas. The second song Speak for Me is a bit more spirited and funky; reminding me of the more rocking tracks by MUZE, stop/start drums interspersed with radio-friendly modern-rock melodies. Both sound like “clever” emo-rock but without the vocals.
The last track, Intersecting Monologue is an epic of sorts. Clocking at 6 minutes over, this is really a neo-Mars Volta work out fleshed out by the amazingly capable Wan wailing to the points of sounding like Rush’s Geddy Lee meets a cousin of Suede’s Brett Anderson. Not astounding but really a marker of what the band is capable of.
The videos in the jam room is pretty throwaway while the one taken at live at Paul’s Place is fun; especially when they segued halfway into a Butterfingers-like trad Malay groove. Here the band sounds livelier and a lot looser than the studio tracks; proof that getting down at it by letting the juice flow rather than controlled is what needed!
There’s a note that this CD-R is NOT FOR SALE, so if you’re into this sorta genre, you should write to the guys and blag a copy.