The Average By Six ~ Polaroids

Radio frequencies swirl in a daze of shoreline static. Sitting on the dock of the bay, wastin’ time, a boat kisses the undulating ocean’s moist lips. Lo-fi waves reflect off a shortwave signal, sent back along invisible IV lines linking countless other vessels. Polaroids is a very fitting name for the music inside; the whole record consists of multiple snapshots that fly past like a jet ski rider trying to impress the pretty girls on the shoreline. Accelerating past at full blast, Polaroids fulfills a short lifespan in only 10 continuous minutes.

Interludes are distanced by static interference, frequencies which clear the way for differing ocean moods and colours; new pictures. Parisian musician Karim Mokhtari, known as The Average By Six, paddles through the decades, changing seasons and changing settings while incredibly keeping this tiny tape cohesive and as intimate as the confined deck on starboard. We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

All of the frequencies produce a colourful picture. Photos of the ocean, in all seasons, can be seen from our docked position; the murky, overcast sea during the Autumn and Winter, only to be sprayed over by the breezy pop melodies of a hazy Summer sunset. Sailing the ocean, the voyage rocks ever on, but the music is relaxed enough to imagine ourselves docking at the bay and checking out the coastal scenery. Decades unfold in front of our eyes, awakening an inner realisation that the years – and our own lives – are only drops in the everlasting ocean.

Only a smudge of colour greets our eyes as the polaroids develop, because the radio static continues to eclipse the music. Through the naive pop of the 50’s, the shockwave of revolution in the 60’s and up to the alternative music scene of the 1990’s – she has seen it all, and it’s all on tape. Rockier as the years pass, the music drifts through slices of downtempo American hip-hop, light folk (with vocals) and early rock n’ roll, rollerskating down past the palmtrees as the sun lotion gleams underneath the shades. All of the music feels faded, thanks to the lo-fi recording technique. Sonar echoes from the past filter through in a daydream atmosphere, where cruising casual chords are strummed in sepia.

Acoustic guitars seem to be serenading those beautiful, fair-skinned mermaids that only come out onto the boat when the sun goes down. It’s a loving dedication to the ocean, while also highlighting her unpredictability; she has her own rhythm. Polaroids is never in danger of capsizing. One may argue that it is too short not too, but it’s possible to create a shipwreck in the space of thirty seconds or even less. Picking up these frequencies is like tuning into a reminiscent radio, one that plays over our own personal bandwidth where all of those tropical places we ever travelled to return home in a tidal wave of emotions. Polaroids is as smooth as the motion in the ocean, and makes for a light, cool listen. It’s sad when the reels click their conclusion; the flipped side is blank, waiting for the flash of future years to create their musical photography.

On the deck, the ocean view looks fine. Over and out. (James Catchpole)

Available here


  1. I am completely submerged in this Ocean… and I don’t want to survive…
    Great Work Karim, as always!!

  2. Pingback: ACL 2012: Top Ten Experimental « a closer listen

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