Polinski - Labyrinths

It’s enveloping, intense, at points claustrophobic, at points joy-inducing but most of all: it’s damn, damn good.

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re a fan of 65daysofstatic. Stands to reason: this is the first solo album by a band member (Paul Wolinski is the keys/synths man). If you’re not a fan and you’re reading this, you should be applauded for your willingness to engage with music journalism. But for this review, we’ll go with the assumption that you are.

When listening to ‘Labyrinths’, one of the things that will strike you most quickly (assuming you are a fan of Polinksi’s main project) is how much of an influence he must have had on the change of sound 65daysofstatic displayed on ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’. Whilst that albums marriage of 65’s post-rock leanings with a heavily techno-based sound shocked some (and still divides fans), ‘Labyrinths’ sounds like the culmination of a long held ambition for Paul Wolinski. It also sounds (using possibly dodgy personification for an analogy here) like ‘Labyrinths’ was the cool Uncle that introduced ‘WWEA’ to the world of electronic music, the Uncle who still listens to Giorgio Moroder, Thomas Dolby and his ilk.

‘1985-Quest’ is revealing in both it’s title and it’s sound. A menacing intro, glacial synths atop a throbbing programmed bassline, leads into a just-the-right-side-of-cheesy analogue synth hook. Whether original electronic equipment was used or not, Polinski has gone to some effort to ensure that ‘Labyrinths’ has an authentic analogue feel: it really does sound like it was forged around the time of those experimental electronic musicians. What stops it delving into cheese realms is the evident love on display. Whilst the Italo-disco revival of a few years ago was done with a knowing, ironic wink – ‘Labyrinths’ sounds genuine. Stitches’ heavily vocodered vocals are another nod to that 80s sound whilst Tangents deceptive piano key led intro morphs into white-noise synths that catch you by surprise.

Whilst nothing on ‘Labyrinths’ matches the sheer majesty and euphoria of ‘WWEA’’s highlight ‘Tiger Girl’, the scale of ambition on display here is audacious and laudable. A deceptively titled beast, the press release talked of white noise and heavy beats: whilst there are certainly those, this is far more accessible than that would have you believe. It’s certainly the most ‘poppy’ thing 65dos-related and not just because of the vocals used. It’s either deeply ironic or a massive influence that 65 are about to release a soundtrack to classic sci-fi film ‘Silent Running’: any of ‘Labyrinths’ seven tracks (again deceptive, it’s 42 mins long with Kressyda an 11 minute behemoth) would easily soundtrack a John Carpenter action sequence, or a big boss battle in an RPG. As bizarre as it sounds to say, ‘Labyrinths’ is a sci-fi record. It’s enveloping, intense, at points claustrophobic, at points joy-inducing but most of all: it’s damn, damn good. And seeing as it’s streaming on this here website, what on earth are you waiting for?

Tags: Polinski, Reviews, Album Reviews

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