Handing over the mic to artists/musicians who break down their new albums track by track/share the thought process behind the creation. Today we’ll hear from Polypores (aka Stephen James Buckley), prolific electronic musician from UK.
Both Universe B and its follow-up Isolation Jams: Volume 1 are self-released, but Polypores also put out material on Castles in Space, Front and Follow, Polytechnic Youth and other labels. Polypores also contributed two guest mixes to IHN – one in 2017 and one in 2019.
The idea for the album was informed initially by the music I was making without really thinking too much about it. I noticed that I was leaning more towards sounds that were slightly unpleasant, Slightly dissonant or jarring. Not overly so, maybe not in an obvious way. But there was something a bit “off” there. I was also reading all these mad conspiracy theories about how the work on the Large Hadron Collider had caused us to slip into an alternate universe, which accounts for the Mandela Effect.
Anyway, that, combined with the weirdness of seeing all the empty streets during lockdown, the fact that the world looked the same – but different, that all came together into this album.
This was the first track I wrote for the album. It actually sounds more like something off an older Polypores album rather than something I’d do more recently. It’s based on two simple sequences – from the Make Noise 0-Coast and STO, with a drone underneath which is Noise Reap Bermuda going through Mutable Ripples filter. Some bells come in from Mutable Rings later on. THe harsh high pitched tone (which features a lot throughout the album) was from Mutable Plaits. All of these will have had various parameters modulated by things like Make Noise Maths, Divkid Ochd etc. Sequencing was a combination of Intellijel Scales, Korg SQ1, and Mutable Marbles.
Reverb on all tracks comes from the Specular Tempus pedal.
One of two different versions of this track. The first is on my Isolation Jams collection, which is on both Youtube and Bandcamp. This one was Marbles sequencing Rings and Plaits. Plaits is in either FM or Harmonic oscillator mode, modulated by Maths, clocked by an Omsonic clock divider. Drone from 0-Coast. Chord and bell sounds from Volca FM.
I think the drone at the start is something going into Mutable Clouds, but no idea what. It could be literally anything. There are a couple of repeating plucky/percussive sequences from 0-Coast and Rings, then the Volca FM comes in with that flute-like sound. The melody over the top is Plaits in Wavetable mode I think, going through the granular delay setting on Erica Synths Pic DSP. Which I sold after this album because I only liked the granular delay setting.
One of my favourite tracks on the album. This is an interesting one. The main drone was actually about 1 second of a Todd Rundgren track going through Clouds. This is layered up with various drones from Bermuda and STO. It sounds like Plaits in Chord mode is also there, possibly going through the granular delay on Pico DSP. I think the melody is some white noise going into Rings, but it’s all buried quite thick in there so it’s hard to identify.
I think this was the second track I wrote for the album. It’s very pleasant I think. Almost conventional. It’s got a Japanese Ambient vibe to it, which I was listening to a lot of at the time. It’s the Volca FM, 0-Coast, and Rings. One of these is going through Clouds as a granular delay, but can’t tell exactly what. I think the buzzy sounding drones are Plaits and STO. For a lot of the slow melodic parts I was playing them using the Krog SQ1 sequencer as a sort of primitive keypad, then tweaking the knobs with my other hand.
I wanted a sort of soundtrack-y vibe to this one. I build up a drone (likely with STO and Bermuda) then played the melody over the top using the SQ1 as a keypad. This is going into a loop pedal (EHX 720) so I could layer it up and create harmony.
I think the sequence is Plaits through Doepfer SEM filter, sequenced by Scales. The weird clicky sounds will be some kind of random/Krell patch created with Make Noise Maths, possibly modulating the pitch of a sample of some kind.
Another favourite of mine. Another big drone with Bermuda going through Ripples, possibly layered with 0-Coast. White noise modulating the FM input of Ripples. The higher pitched sound is Plaits in FM mode going through Pico DSP granular delay. The plucky sounds are Rings and Volca FM through a delay pedal (TC Flashback II), and the bassline is STO. The slow melody over the top is Plaits I think, probbably through Doepfer SEM as I love that combination. The SEM breaks up a tiny bit, gives a bit of warm to the otherwise cold character of Plaits.
Another one that sounds a bit more like old-school Polypores. Main sequence is Make Noise 0-Coast, sequenced by SQ1, but going through a precision adder, so the sequencer is sequencing itself in places, which adds more complexity. Then we’ve got another sequence on Plaits FM mode, modulated by Maths occasionaly. Going through the Pico DSP mono delay every now and then for a sort of dub delay sound. I think this sequence was created via the Logic element of Mutable Kinks. I was using that a lot on this album to generate sequences. There’s also something going through Clouds here to make that clicky glitchy sound. And the nice string melody over the top is Volca FM.
This is some kind of sample (no idea what) going into the input of Rings to make a strange loop. I used Make Noise Maths to generate a clock from the same sample, which then informed the timings for the rest of the track. The sequence is Plaits in FM mode again, and modulated occasionally by Maths so it becomes dissonant sometimes. The Big Drone is something into Clouds, probably the same sample thats going into Rings. Layered up with lower drones from STO and Bermuda. I wanted this to sound intense. I love ambient music that sounds kind of heavy, like the first Blanck Mass record.
I was sat in my back yard one afternoon reading a book in the sun, and some bubbles floated over. I thought it was kind of beautiful. I think I had that in mind whilst creating this. The sequences are 0-Coast and Rings through the TC delay pedal and maybe Clouds. I think the bassline was Bermuda through Ripples, and sequenced by running the other two sequences through the Kinks logic module. The lead melody is Volca FM, and the hazy drone sound is STO through Pico DSP granular delay. Then there’s a higher pitched chord sound, which is Plaits in chord mode.
The saddest track on the album. There’s so much reverb here that I have no idea what is going on, but it’s likely to be Plaits/STO/Bermuda all sequenced by Marbles.All going through my two filters. I think there’s something from the 0-Coast in there too, going through a Ladik slew limiter to give it the woozy bend sound. There’s a sample which comes in towards the end and sounds kind of crackly. I won’t tell you what that is, you can work it out for yourself. Keep the mystery alive…
This is an alternative version of Exotic Matter Matters. I’d recorded that track and thought “I wonder what happens if I slow it right down and open up all the envelopes?”. And the answer is… this.
5G (The Other Frequency)
Another early track I did on the album. I absolutely love that sound at the start. It’s something samples into Clouds’ Time Stretch mode, which I rarely use. But this sound was perfect for the album. We’ve got a sparse melody, I think from 0-Coast via Pico DSP granular delay. And there’s another drone from Plaits in FM mode (which was the signature sound of the album I think). The same sample from Everything Exposed As Fragile comes in at the end here, played via Disting.
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