It’s difficult to know whether Polybius were formed, or born, or indeed anything. Best to assume the Sheffield / Rotherham based duo were forged. Certainly the (musical) DNA of Warp and Voltaire and Clock DVA have played heavy on the duo, only known as EV and the Random (“our personal names are irrelevant”) and they make music with that dark, industrial landscape of South Yorkshire in the background, and acting as a musical backdrop to their sound. As they describe it themselves “We were creating in South Yorkshire surrounded by the rhythmic thud and noise of the now decaying steel industry.” Even so though, even us Northerners like to get some sun on our backs, and there’s plenty of warm, almost (dare I say) Balearic sounds in places.
This, their debut album, demonstrates much of these influences, and through the record they pass through a range of electronic sounds effortlessly. The title track opener reeks of retro house reccords, a little bit of Josh Wink (not the only time a little bit of acid house appears – check ‘We are the music makers…’, a little bit of the Cabs. It shifts throughout, never letting you rest, keeping you gripped, adding in little brass motifs here, and buzzing bass sounds there. Follow on Isolation (live) features esteemed Northern performance poet Wayne Dyson on lyrics, as it takes a harder turn, pulsating beats as Dyson comments, on, well, Isolation. Dyson appears again later on in the record, in much sunnier musical climbs for The Vibe, the chiming synths and disco house beats clearing the way for his lines.
Elsewhere, there are plenty of high points in the record. The Eastern ambiance of Salyut really sparkles, and Yama gradually builds up from an almost single sound into this banging, muscular track. Best of all though, is when the pair relax into the warm house sound of 11:15, its trippy, laid back electronic music that ticks all the late night / early morning chill out boxes, and its fantastic.
Polybius may still be under the radar, but they won’t be for long.