Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Pollicer - Songs For Those Who Yearn (2009) Review

Pollicer is an American dance music producer on Protagonist Records, SGX's online label, and Songs For Those Who Yearn is, as far as I can tell, his first album. I first discovered him through a free track on protagonistrecords.net two years ago.

This song was "Alive" and I was drawn to it because of the featured vocals of Jillian Aversa, (then) Jillian Goldin, who I'm a big fan of and definitely needs a whole weblog post full of praise to herself.  "Alive" is a synthpop masterpiece, chilled and downtempo but still full of synths and percussion, keeping the song on that edge between full-on and easy listening. The riffs are simple, but simple riffs are good, and keep the listener's ear hooked in when the vocals are absent.

When Jillian starts singing, you damn well notice, because she's got some serious power behind that voice, and this is a great track for showcasing it. I feel a little stupid for not looking at the rest of the album at the time, because with a free sampler like that I should have been drawn right it, but hey, I'm an idiot. "Alive"is the fifth track on SFTWY, right in the middle of the album. Jillian Aversa's other song on this album is the straight-to-the-dancefloor synthpop of "Until The Morning Light', which if you threw it into a DJ set next to Yazoo or Lady Gaga would drop right in and kick ass. Pollicer falls into neither of the twin traps of over-engineering or excessive imitation like a lot of modern synthpop, so you know you're onto something different here. Having a singer that could blow most pop singers away doesn't hurt either.

As for the other tracks, none of them would shy away from standing up to songs by people who get alot more money for this sort of thing. Nearly all of them have a slight synthpop tinge regardless of what genre they fit into. My personal favourite is "Open You Up (On the inside)", a frantic breakbeat track full of nifty synths, perfectly timed beats and epic pads. Proggy house introduction "This World"is a brilliant way to enter the album, and "Long Way Home" is a modern take on the kind of balearic house of late-90s Chicane, which is never going to get a thumbs down from me. "Stargazer" kicks the tempo up a bit into proper trance with a hard edge, just appropriate for using in a combined trance/hard house mix (this is a bit early 2000s). "Death Warrant" is a Pendulum-style breaks track, which while not particularly bad and definitely more interesting than the comparison I just made would suggest, has the distinction of being the weakest track on the album, as there's really a little too much going on, the mix is rather claustrophobic in contrast to the spacious "Open You Up".

"For Those Who Yearn For More", a downtempo moment with female vocals, makes me think of Mike Oldfield with more electronics. The piano basis, epic atmosphere and spoken-word sections would fit right into the middle of Oldfield's 90s albums, if they had been executive produced by Above and Beyond. The ending, "Who is John Galt" is a very long song, twelve and a half minutes, and builds up in multiple movements, aiming for a feel as much like a soundtrack as possible. Beginning as a slower breaks track and transitioning into 4-to-the-floor later at a moderate tempo, Pollicer has succeeded in making a sweet piece that easily stays out of the elevator and keeps you interested. I don't know if it's intentional, but the resemblance of WIJG to the tracker-based music from the absolute classic game Deus Ex is striking, and this is again an homage I certainly don't have a problem with.

This album made me break my long tradition of not buying digital downloads, as although I prefer CDs there's no other way of getting this one. I don't mind that in the slightest, if you're a dance music fan this is a must. Check out the rest of protagnistrecords.net while you're there!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I just heard Alive - you are right - it's simple but I like! Reminds me of the hours Shalu and I used to spend listening to Robert Miles' Dreamland. This is what I remember trance being:)