Selaroda – Polytexturalism (Sanity Muffin, 2014)

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Released in January this year, Polytexturalism is the 4th full length album of indie Californian project Selaroda, a little outfit that I’ll concede I hadn’t heard of prior to their email. I’ve been sitting on this record for a few weeks now because of my recent busyness but there has also been a delay due to my increasing disappointment with each successive listen of this. I don’t like opening by saying that I’m a bit disenchanted but I think it’s important to get it out the way.

Opener “Moonlit Cloud Visions” sort of carves out this almost Blade Runner-esque vista with its dark synth pulses and droning bell toll to signify the album has begun; there’s just a hint of that Carbon Based Lifeforms vibe for a brief moment in the way it shimmers into life through minor keys before carefully evolving in the latter half into a retro minimalistic number. It’s a decent piece but it does symbolise the rather stylistically defocused nature of this album; followup “Pharaodioh” is the junction between the opener and the rest of the record, a sharp interlude marking the onset of the long-form tracks to come in its whistling winds and radio static and downtempo grooves.

“Lavadrum vs. Aquascape” is a futuristic and psychedelic tympany of warbling and flanging synth riffs coated in a sugary low fidelity fuzz, pulling itself out of the mires of time in thick layers of meaty synth drones and squashed, aquatic beats. It’s actually largely content to simmer, resting in troughs of relatively mundane experimental synth noodlings, which is pretty frustrating because the crescendos are quite beauteous affairs, sliding on expanding currents of energised drone; the rest is simply too aimless to be enjoyable. The initial moments of “Kustenweg” make me want to return to the previous piece but if you hold out from the overbearing bombast of the opening, the warped synth lines make room for delicate piano and shimmery synth tinklings in the latter half of what is probably the most well rounded and fully-formed piece of the album, it’s a beautiful little number for sure in its foggy, starlight punctuated gazing.

Whilst the naming convention seems nonexistent, “Syng Reboot NuCo e-S ~ selim (lockgroove dub)” does seem to take the piss just a little bit, like some overenthusiastic Autechre emulation; shame that the music in this near 13 minute monolith doesn’t quite match their quality. Formless vocal coos serenade the opening sequences before too much happens for me to begin to adequately describe. It flits between a variety of different random chapters, entertaining semi-crystalline mushes of formless synthesiser lines, dabbling in processed guitar dub at one point and even a cacophonous foray into computerised and mechanical chaos later  in the piece with some looped warning alarm, or similar, and drum machine spiralling wildly out of control before collapsing into the circular hissing and clicking of a record’s locked groove. It’s a bizarre and frustratingly unpredictable experience to me.

“The Cemetery At Old Yeomet” is a welcome reprieve from the dysfunctional ramblings of its predecessor, finally abandoning the synth and replacing it with distal and humbling guitar; it makes no immediate sense given the previous content of the album but it’s hardly surprising at this point. It’s a long track as well, 7 minutes in span, the vast majority of which is taken up by these pretty gorgeous guitars, but for no reason whatsoever it bottoms out suddenly to be replaced by washes of static, reverbed voices and strobing television or radio station hopping. It’s maddening that this ending was just shoehorned onto such a delicate piece, especially when closer “Epilogue” rounds the album out on a low-key piano solo!

I guess the title should have been more of a giveaway; Polytexturalism genuinely does live up to its name but sadly I fail to see its appeal. It’s got some nice concepts and I like the more intimate, acoustic moments a lot; heck, I like the minimal drone moments in a few of the core tracks as well, but it really doesn’t come together as an album in any way. Half the tracks feel disparate within themselves and I cant grasp any sense of overarching cohesion stylistically or conceptually other than that it’s supposed to be a deliberate melting pot of various textures. It’s a pretty thin case if I’m honest, and although there is something about this record that makes me come back I think it’s purely because it’s so off the wall as opposed to being an interesting, quality release.

If I haven’t put you off too much, you can check out the album for yourself on their Bandcamp.

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