Morrow vs. Hajduch: Polinski’s Labyrinths

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Polinski: LabyrinthsPolinski: Labyrinths (Monotreme, 11/8/11)

Polinski: “Tangents”

[audio:|titles=Polinski: “Tangents”]

Morrow: Following its first three albums, England’s 65daysofstatic took a step away from its experimental beginnings — when it collided instrumental post-rock with glitchy breakbeats — to craft an album that was more a fusion of rock and dance. (Think of Holy Fuck, only moodier and with more of the band’s core elements.) Now 65DOS computer dude Paul Wolinski has headed straight to the dance floor for his solo debut. It’s purportedly inspired by the darker synth sounds of 1970s and ’80s sci-fi flicks, but even though there is the occasional John Carpenter moment, Labyrinths is much more clubby than scary.

Hajduch: I like how the promo MP3s came all in ALL CAPS and look like the music of a CRAZY PERSON. The tunes are a bit busy and energetic for the Carpenter comparison – they’re more like a Rustie that’s been toned down. Opener “1985-QUEST” sounds exactly like the title. You could watch VHS end-credits to it, or maybe do some aerobics. If anything, the clubby bombast here sounds a lot like Gatekeeper, which does the “horror disco” thing about as well as anyone could hope to.

Morrow: Yes, Gatekeeper is a more apt comparison. There are a lot of synth layers here, and though the music usually is dense enough not to get tiresome, there’s a touch of simplistic repetition on tracks such as “Stitches.” This, however, is redeemed elsewhere, particularly on the 11-minute epic “Kressyda,” which moves through an ambient intro to piano minimalism to some of the album’s grittiest sounds and most engaging melodies.

The caps lock might be dismissed if Mr. Wolinski’s band didn’t ignore the space bar on a regular basis. Besides just sounding angry, going with ALL CAPS also bears the mark of a RANSOM NOTE. But count your blessings: at least they weren’t typed in gOtHiC eMo styling (which, come to think of it, also looks like a rAnSoM nOtE).

Hajduch: I really like it. I assume it’s just the ID tags and the actual album isn’t ALLCAPS, but I sort of hope I’m wrong. The slow build of “KRESSYDA” (I’m not falling into your inside-the-box regular-caps thinking, Scott) is an engaging listen, but it’s sort of like a slowed-down version of the narrative of the previous two songs. Throughout the album, the four-on-the-floor is either directly engaged or completely discarded in a given moment. There’s never a real pervasive throb that swells to a climax; beats are dropped and then recede when it’s time to.

“KRESSYDA” subs out piano for a wormy, propulsive synth/beat/stutter combo, lets it work for a few minutes, and then takes it all away again. Then the trick repeats. It makes for an album full of gripping moments, but with the feeling that they don’t always add up to something cohesive.

Morrow: For me, it all makes sense together, but the second half has a better flow. That’s only three tracks, but because most of them are lengthy, it’s 22 minutes of music (on a 42-minute album). “A Waltz of Light” is a really pretty outro that transitions out of fuzz and into a steady refrain with post-rock swells and glockenspiel accents. Of any track, this might sound the most like 65daysofstatic, but it brings Labyrinths to a fitting close.

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