What does Polinski sound like?
A 90s IDM artist bringing VHS vibes to 2023.
The review of Polinski – Telex From MIDI City
Paul Wolinski aka Polinski had a very specific idea when it came to his new album ‘Telex From MIDI City’. It was to imagine what a radio broadcast from another planet might sound like. He wanted to take all the things he loved about 90s IDM, 80’s synths and today’s music technology and create banger after banger. I’m delighted to say Polinski lands every beat, synth, warble and grizzly noise gurgle. This album is an absolute trip and I am a huge fan.
The album kicks off with the lead single ‘Distant Friend I Love You’ which is a drum n bass beat led classic. There is an element of 65daysofstatic here as thick basslines and washes of noise kick in but Polinski keeps an alien tonality to it. There is an atonal chorus to the sine synths and weird radio snippets of vocals or frequency shifts flip in and out. It’s such an epic opener, the title track and ‘Youth Loop’ spend time in its shadow working quirky ditties into earworms. The former is supposedly a dreamy romance between robots but feels much more aggressive and rigid. The latter is a futuristic take on a transport jingle and loops around so quickly it is dizzying.
After such a frantic opening section, Polinski takes us underground with the majestic ‘Coral Games’. The linear notes call it a Deep Sea Nintendo Research Unit and I honestly cannot think of a better description. Bit crunched waves, soothing synth bells and plenty of welcome space to relax. ‘Proof Of Life’ is a gritty and sound-damaged dystopian IDM piece. Elements of cyberpunk hover in the background but the running arpeggios bleed out over electric guitar and ramping up beats. IDM shoegaze style suits Polinski very well. ‘Night Ocean’ follows a similar style but uses a clipped time signature and slower pace to convey a vast scale. Polinski is able to balance epic scale in his compositions whilst sounding slightly unnerving so well and this track is the best example of it.
Whilst nothing has been overtly creepy, the album does have an underlying sinister tone to it. ’95haunts’ is where this comes to the fore. A mixture of detuned, unhappy guitar noises and taut keyboards create a haunted Castlevania backdrop for distorted guitar screams. It’s the kind of music you’d hear in a cyberpunk Silent Hill. This paves the way for the grand finale. ‘Other Worlds Parts 1 & 2’ is an over 14-minute track to close out the album. The linear notes say this is the soundtrack to a world done differently. My word for the track is planetarium. As the track expands and grows more complex, the chords step out of usual patterns to sound bigger like a 70’s sci-fi show. The track has a wow factor to it as if you are travelling through the stars at speed and ends in a homely celestial ambience too.
I adore this album. Polinski creates a soundtrack for another world that feels wonderous, slightly sinister and full of texture. It sounds like 2023 being replayed through a VHS but never like it is a tribute or emulation of the 80s synth scene. With the current 80’s sound being the rage, this sounds distinctive and unique and not cookie-cutter like so much of this revival has become. I feel like I’ve visited somewhere else and experienced its world and that’s the best compliment for a project like this.
Recommended track: Distant Friend I Love You
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