Polysick Daydream

[audioMER; 2013]

Styles: acid house, Chicago house, techno, ambient, italo disco

These are the rules (or guidelines) of my dissection of Polysick’s Daydream:

3. Two kinds of phenomena can be identified, the one termed external (sensations, perceptions), the other termed internal (images, memories).

5. Time and space are merely schematic distortions of duration and extension…

8. Perception is a prism that transforms the metaphysical world into a physical world.

28. History is an immobile flux.

– Raymond Queneau, “The Last Days”

Daydream as a title is self-explanatory. It says what it means and encapsulates the album’s essence. It is not so much a label impressed upon Polysick’s sonic vision as much as it is a direct result of it. Daydream is a symphony of impressions, Proustian reverie. Of course, there is an objective force at work in everything we do and experience; all perception, all fantasies can be distilled down to their Real beginnings. Here, Polysick is bound to his identity and instrumentation, vessels for optimum expressivity. Art is the manipulation and employment of the particulars of that force, thus all the more beautiful. This dissection of the album will ground Polysick’s daydream state — affection and adoration — to its mechanical and calculated roots: expressivity distilled.

“[…] the spiritual automaton, ‘mechanical man’, ‘experimental dummy’, Cartesian diver in us, unknown body which we have only at the back of our heads, and whose age is neither ours nor that of our childhood, but a little time in the pure state.”
– Gilles Deleuze, Cinema II)

We dive inward when we express; the output is the result. To express is to freefall into our minds, our identities, and our identities in Time. In this way, Polysick explores a situationist method. He constructs a mental place and lives there, and the album is bred from that place making direct references, utilizing the same equipment for every song and every album, a symbol of his position in time and his forever still and expressive self. Daydream as an intellectual product is a sort of stitching together of phrases and assertions from the past (Polysick’s own past and his influences) that manifests in his current work. The references and the equipment are one in the same, harkening back to a time, whether it be through name (a hypertextual notion), through what it produces (the sounds that we latch on to, the sounds that defined a time), or through the physical presence of the instrument. Here, the Roland D50 is present not only for Polysick’s own expressive uses, but as a signifier for the place and time in which its reputation was born.

“Ideas are aspects of our practical involvement with the world and, therefore, will undergo change through being ‘lived’.”
– Karl Marx

Identity is wholly grounded in how it is consistently and persistently represented. The grounding and routing of Polysick’s expressive self through his instruments is a way of dissecting the self, to get to his own essence. To be situationist is to be reflexive, ensconced in a situation on all sides and being reactionary to it. Here, Polysick is ensconced by memory. And with this notion intact, a delineation, a dichotomy must be asserted. The situationist Polysick expresses wildly and relinquishes ownership of the product — the precious conscious artifact — retracing his own steps. This means distilling all the memories and references that empower Polysick as means of defining his expressive mode and position. (Even as I am writing this, I am listening not to Polysick, but to various Underground Resistance artists).

“Blazer” and “Haze” call to mind the use of mono bass in the style of Boards of Canada, maybe an SH-101. So, in a qualitative sense, Daydream is much warmer sounding, more analogue than digital, which still speaks to the notion of homage, memory without becoming mimetic or historicizing, thus the aforementioned Larry Heard influence percussion wise is definitely palpable with the title track, along with it being a Proustian return to the Chicago House tradition, à la, pitched-down vocals.

The title speaks to the intent of the album, an acid flashback to the rave era; Polysick immerses the listener in the memory of it. The experiences of the self are not singular, but multifarious, with several different components. Unlike Digital Native, Daydream has a much less sterile quality about it. It is quite warbly, stressing the human, subjective center, making Daydream less of a commentary like Digital Native. Polysick has spoken many times about the notion of a journey or inhabiting a place. His use of spacious qualities allows him room to expand as much spatially as he does temporally (the latter speaking to his own expressive growth). The internet age, an inescapable influence on Digital Native, appears to be a priori, hypertextual for Daydream; this album is a direct result of the information age. Through the internet, one can quite literally return to a time as this album does. The contextual evidence is more in the head space than it was in the signifier of retro-futurism. Where Digital Native seemed like a meditation on its singular qualities, Daydream is the experiential whole. Speaking to this idea, Daydream seems to be consistent with Digital Native instrumentally, only angled more towards a “warehouse” orientation to, once again, evoke the origins of the sounds with the use of the 909/303.

To elaborate on this more, there was a time in which electronic music culture (pre-Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 rave) was fighting for preservation. One could go to warehouse parties and hear electronic musicians like Stakker Humanoid (which reached #1 on the UK Dance Chart at one point) alongside the records that the community regarded as being “underground” during their time today. All of the instrumentation then begets the quality of the time and context in terms of appropriation. Because synthesizers are less utilitarian than guitar, Polysick is able to expand on that time without compromising his own identity. Daydream is an attempt to get back to a time where things were more “pure” and less diluted by notions of genre and regionalized context. The hypertext of influence, the anxiety of it, becomes a vessel for expression itself when molded to a singular, unwavering vision. Daydream in this way is deeply personal and mesmerizing. Here, Polysick is no longer the cold investigator of origins but the sum of those parts.

An inventory list and the equipment’s individual properties:

Drum Machines:
- Roland Tr-808/ Tr-909
A 12-voice digital drum machine, released in 1984. Only 10,000 units were produced. Featured prominently in house/techno.
- Roland Tr-606

- TB-303
Analog monophonic synthesizer known for its squelching resonant filter and use in acid house.
- Roland Sh-101
A small 2 1/2-octave monophonic analog synthesizer from Roland. It offers one CEM 3340 VCO with separate levels for sawtooth, square, pulse, pulse width modulation, and suboscillator. It also features an ADSR envelope generator and an LFO, which can be set on triangle, square, random (sample-and-hold), and noise.

- D50
The presets of the D-50, authored by Eric Persing and Adrian Scott, were well-received by the artists’ community, and most of them can be heard on numerous commercial albums of the late 1980s. The D-50’s factory presets have enjoyed a long legacy, as patches like “Digital Native Dance,” “Fantasia,” “Glass Voices,” and “Living Calliope” are so common they border on cliché.
- Roland Juno series/ Korg Polysix
Often used for “dreamy” pads due to their (in)famous onboard choruses.

Links: Polysick - audioMER

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