Polyphonic Exophilia – Vol. 3 – EP Review
If you’ve been anywhere within earshot of me or my speakers here in the studio since about…oh say, August this year…you’ve definitely heard the music of Polyphonic Exophilia and a whole lot about what I’ve had to say regarding this unique Norway-based audio awesomeness. Of all the bands & artists I’ve had the privilege of being able to stumble upon this year, there’s no doubt this collective crew of talent has made an impression that’ll last me a lifetime – quite simply, they’re essentially incomparable. To think that they just started doing what they do this year, is beyond phenomenal. While there’s no doubt that what Polyphonic Exophilia, aka PPXP, creates is outside the mainstream and the scope of many people’s own comprehension…for those of you out there looking for more in the music you listen to, this band is nothing but pure gold. With an unknown lineup of skillful players that remains flexible, as I understand it, the PPXP are built of many musicians that can pretty much come & go as they please; I’d imagine once you become part of this family right here, you’ve earned your place for life. When the music needs that special something that only that one player can provide, you better believe they likely get the call – Polyphonic Exophilia are proven masters of going with the flow of the moment & where any given song will take them, yes – but make no mistake, they know the ingredients they wanna use. In their own avant-garde & artistic style, they create stunning fusion and uniquely exploratory sound – and they had me hooked immediately from the moment I checked out their Vol. 2 EP back in the review I wrote up earlier this year…so much so, that I might have just maybe (okay probably, very, very likely) could have purloined the Vol. 1 EP from the Bandcamp Friday sale in September for the final run of our subseries on the SBS Podcast later in December this year for our upcoming Proof Of Purchase specials. You might have even heard them just the other day on our show too – I played one of the brand-new songs by PPXP in advance of the official release of their Vol. 3 EP, a stellar track called “Past,” which incidentally, is right where their latest record begins…let’s check this sonic adventure out, shall we?
As they slide on into the “Past” where it all starts, the invitational vibe of Polyphonic Exophilia makes itself instantly known once again. It’s extremely welcoming…truly like you’re right there and part of the experience, listening to them noodle for a moment or two before snapping right into place as one unified entity, and surging forward into the jazzy hooks, rhythms, and grooves threaded into “Past.” I’ll say this…really, they could have chosen any song on this EP to represent their record as the advance lead-single and it would be equally satisfying in the exact same regards – the facts are the facts, PPXP creates exquisitely expressive and adventurous music that’s just straight-up interesting to listen to, and apparently, every single time they choose to make more. What I think they achieve more than anything else…what the REAL secret in the sauce is in these songs they’re cookin’ up – it’s that listening to it is every bit as fun as you can imagine making it would be – and honestly, that’s remarkable. Songs like “Past” not only display a tremendous amount of individual skill, collective talent, and clever twists & turns from start to finish that will keep you fully engaged along the way – but audibly, you can tell that their music is a pure JOY for them to make. You know – that very thing that so many artists & bands will tell you it is, but so rarely actually heard within the music itself – Polyphonic Exophilia is like the answer to all that & more – every note & tone they play in these instrumental jams is fueled by love of the craft. With bass-lines movin’ & groovin’ and the crisp snap of the snare, melodic keys, filtered guitar magic, vibrant synthetic atmospheric elements, and what sounds like even a flute & saxophone in the mix at points as well…I mean…let’s be real here, the PPXP give you plenty to love about’em instantly on “Past.”
“Present” starts out with a more reflective beginning…almost like they’re once again considering their surroundings, who & what’s available to make the magic happen, and within about forty-seconds or so, they’re off & running once again. LOVE the addition of the way the drums will come chiming in unexpectedly at points like you’ll experience around the 1:40/2:45-ish marks, along with the impeccably tight beat you’ll find happening throughout the entire song. Polyphonic Exophilia will even incorporate a bit of vocals into the mix for ya in that Mogwai-esque effects-laden sound…once “Present” kicks itself into gear, they keep the entertainment flowin’ fast at ya from just about every angle. When you get right into it, you’ll notice that you’ve got nothing but pure brilliance happening here on this song – listen! I mean it – really listen! You’ll hear how the guitars, bass, keys, and drums are basically just givin’ it everything they got, almost doing their own separate thing and seeming like each player is lost in their own world of sound, yet everything links up spot-on, complements the other layers, and it somehow all makes sense. Believe me, writing it down and trying to describe it is challenging enough – but coming up with music like this to begin with, is a downright superhuman task. The resulting unified sound in a song like “Present” makes it seem like PPXP have been around since the days of Steely Dan with such consistent quality in their hybrid fusion of Progressive Jazz…to think that they’ve really only been making music as Polyphonic Exophilia since the very year we’re in right now, is outright astounding. The confidence they display in each other…it’s just inspiring to listen to, full-stop. Each player gets their own moment in the spotlight, you’ll notice highlights are had from every instrument involved along the way, which genuinely seems to be the standard approach that PPXP takes towards achieving extraordinary results. Whatever the methods of their joyful madness are, they all definitely work to maximum effect.
You just feel it, you know? You listen to this band do their thing on “Future” and you can truly feel how each element of their music inspires the next, so on & on. Pieces come & go along the way – the rhythm section is always there to regenerate the groove and kick things back into gear whenever required – but again, it’s the confidence they display in going with the moment, delving into their wildest ideas, and getting the best out of themselves within each of their unique experiences they create…these are the ingredients that stack up into innovative & inventive music like this where creative freedom is the ultimate priority above any others. Trust me when I tell ya – I’ve talked with PPXP briefly behind the scenes enough to know what’s up – if YOU had a part that would fit right into something they created, no matter where you are in the world, believe me, their doors are always open to extending the family of their collective even further. All these things tie-in to the sound you hear on songs like “Future,” or any other you’d find throughout Vol. 1, Vol. 2, or Vol. 3 here – it’s because they have such a willingness to explore what they’re capable of, possess such innate skill to make it happen, and embrace their creative freedom with wide open arms that leads them directly to music WE have never heard before. And by WE I mean both PPXP and US as together – all of these songs are like a voyage straight into the unknown realm of music, where anything is possible, all avenues are explored, and instead of that normal imbalance you find in experimental music where the threshold of skill meets the mountain of ambition – Polyphonic Exophilia seems to have all the right players they need for the exact type of sound they’re looking to create on any given tune. “Future” still holds true to what’s essentially a Progressive form of free-flowing Jazz with no limits – but I dunno…call me crazy…I get that Jazz can be an extremely cool & limitless genre & all…I’m just saying it’s extremely rare to find anything that would sound comparable enough to what PPXP does to make it worth citing…these guys are their own deal, 100% – it’s by not ever compromising their collective creativity, they’re coming out with win after win.
So…listen…Polyphonic Exophilia likes to try a lot of different things – we’ve well-established that fact at this point between the two reviews I’ve written & three records I’ve heard from them to-date. Naturally, a more artistic design & method of making music, is going to present numerous challenges when/if they attempt to bring vocals into mix…sometimes it’s just not gonna end up working out, because it would be that demanding or creatively challenging to find a vocal melody that would potentially fit the rambunctious design of their music – and I think you see that reflected through the fact that the majority of what you hear from them is instrumental. That being said – sometimes things ARE going to lineup perfectly, and when presented with that opportunity, you better believe that PPXP is smart enough to know when it works – just like you’ll hear on the outright sensational finale of Vol. 3, called “Space-time,” featuring a sensational performance from guest-star singer Marte Holter Balerud. While it’s fair to say that even the very addition of any vocals at all makes it more of a fringe representation of the overall PPXP sound at this particular moment so early on into their career – I mean, I’d be lyin’ to ya by omission if I didn’t say that adding them into “Space-time” increases the universal accessibility and potential for this track to travel by about a million degrees, that’s just the reality of the situation. Listeners connect with vocals to begin with…you make’em as good as the vocals you’ll hear on “Space-time” and it’s almost impossible to argue that they’re not gonna completely steal the show – because truly, the performance you’ll find damn near merits your full attention – she’s sensational, soulful, stylistic, and sleek on the mic, and the main hooks you’ll remember on “Space-time” – perhaps on this entire EP – exist here at the very end of Vol. 3 directly because of the magic you hear on the mic. You dig right into it, of course you’ll find incredible drums, amazing guitars & bass-lines like you always do…and the final couple minutes gives you a final dose of the instrumentation untamed, letting the saxophone & keys work their melodic vibes into the mix…as far as final tracks go, it pretty much doesn’t get better than what you’ll hear on “Space-time” – I felt like Polyphonic Exophilia ended Vol. 3 with their most addictive cut, and give you every reason to look forward to Vol. 4 or whatever might come next. There’s so much creativity and inspired sound in this band you can’t help but love’em.
Find out more about Polyphonic Exophilia at their official pages below!
Magical Multi-link: https://linktr.ee/ppxp
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