Polygrim ~ Colorspacious

Polygrim (Ukrainian artist Volodymyr Dzitsiuk) is fascinated with color.  Everything about his music reflects the spectrum, from album art to video work to the music.  Colorspacious is a synaesthetic journey that may spark the mind to produce shapes and shades and trails.  But for one track, we don’t need our imagination, as the work has been done for us.  “Color Jungle” travels through prismatic trees and leaves. making room for pink and peach, olive and gold, teal and banana, and many tints not found in the rainbow.  The Northern Lights turn lavender; camouflage sparkles like fireflies in glitter.  When popcorn synth arrives at approximately the two minute mark, the music sparkles; pinwheels morph into trees.  The mood is ebullient; when bright glockenspiel tones surface at 3:30, accompanied by cooing birds, the smile is cemented.

But there’s a trick to this, because that’s not a glockenspiel, and those aren’t birds.  Everything here is synthetic, including the images: a self-imposed rule that in execution doesn’t seem at all restrictive.  This leads to convincingly synthesized woodwinds in “Oceanic,” played with invisible breath; and a drummer who never gets tired.  Some of the best shifts arrive late in tracks, as in the slow recession of “Silverlines,” but the tempo remains upbeat, carried by artificial piano and vinyl scratches.

While most of the album is warm, there’s an edge to the closing minutes of the opening track as an electronic voice attempts to break through like a bad connection.  The purposely “off” notes of “Magic Meadow Rush” (00:27-00:28) keep the mind alert to the fact that a human being is behind the controls.  We normally think of colors as smooth rather than jutting, but these slight shifts benefit the overall tone, which might otherwise have been too fluid and lulling.

The one ambient selection, “Simple Things Are Warm Blankets,” is a welcome break late in the album, with a really convincing synthesized piano constructed of “convolution reverb effects and delay units.”  We’d have moved this track earlier in the set, a minor quibble.  Colorspacious plays tricks on the ear, and leaves us with a feeling of synesthesia.  (Richard Allen)

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