Following hot on the heels of Vol. 1, the logically and very sensibly titled volume 2 is everything that I love about modern music-making. Technology has opened so many doors, made so much music accessible to so many and enabled even the smallest studio set up or impoverished band of musicians to have the capability to create music that belies their means. The result is a world where inspiration and sonic references are where ever you find them, the lines of musical demarcation have been run over rough-shod, genres are wilfully hopped over, barricades ignored, musical worlds collide and the tribalism of the past has been long forgotten. Welcome to the post-genre world.
And Polyphonic Exophilia is one of the latest, most perfect examples of that world. And, in keeping with the idea that generic labels are no more, describing them using in any succinct sort of fashion proves difficult. Their music seems to be a blend of the analogue flexibility of traditional instrumentation and the digital capability of the studio’s enhancements. They both lean into some recognisable genres – funk, dance, jazz and R&B – but they mix these in a progressive and forward-thinking way. This is music that knows where it is coming from but, more importantly, is focused on where it is going.
It also sounds like the product of an underground, experimental dance crew from downtown Detroit rather than rural Norway, again such is the nature of the modern world.
Kinking off with Ups et Pertulerat (one for the Latin scholars) we are greeted with bubbling grooves and effervescent rhythms, soulful riffs and solid, hypnotic passages. It is understated and repetitive, in a creative sort of way, cycling around adding tone and texture or shedding weight as required, ebbing and flowing between funky traditions and future soul potential.
Dance With Fire brings in a vocal component, staccato, scatter-gun salvos of voice running along the top of some sultry and wonderfully subdued funk and God Is What People Make of It seems to slide and swagger around, intoxicating grooves driven by shuffling beats. The topical, When The Lockdown is Over, rounds things off, a more spacious but no less effervescent instrumental piece.
Polyphonic Exophilia is as great as the music is unexpected. Although you can see the sources and inspirations which drive them, everything from 70’s conscious soul to modern chilled dance, funky past glories to contemporary ambient soundscaping, it is the way that they piece all of these together which is the real triumph. And that is how music evolves, stays fresh, creates new sounds and scenes for itself. We live in an age where we dwell too much on our musical past, where the sounds and styles of past eras haunt our creativity, where familiarity breeds contentment, where we forget to look to the future.
Thankfully, Polyphonic Exophilia makes me nostalgic for the future…if that is even possible. Think about that for a moment.