Italian producer Egisto Sopor is a man well versed in the world of esoteric and slightly oblique dance music. Working under the name Polysick, Sopor has released well-received music on Strange Life Records and esteemed dance label 100% Silk while also simultaneously working as part of video collective AAVV. Sopor is very much a multimedia artist and his debut full-length album as Polysick, released on hugely influential electronic label Planet Mu, is a strangely nostalgic piece of understated electronica that bears the influence of both his visual and musical prowess.
Digital Native is dance music that is more cerebral rather than physical; the grooves are mostly hidden beneath washes of wispy electronica and a hazy nostalgic gauze. The overall effect is a combination of hypnotic immersion at its best and an anaemic and arid listlessness at its worst. A primitive nostalgic dance sound pervades throughout the album. Taito’s bubbling italo groove and Loading’s deep acid house style rhythm which is buried amidst an enveloping fug are two excellent cases in point. There is a sense throughout of a kind of otherworldly aspect to this ever so delicate and gentle electronic music.
Sopor has spoken of the importance he places on the visual aspect of his music and he describes some of Digital Native as being influenced by “visions of tribal mysterious explorations”. It is certainly hard to imagine dancing to any of the music here in a traditional contemporary club sense but it is easy to picture it soundtracking a hazy, exhumed film. This cinematic aspect to Polysick’s music, however, does not always translate as well in the context of a full-length album.
Many of the 15 tracks here come and go without really leaving a mark and the record tends to morph into one long continuous piece, particularly in the first half. Drowse and Caravan sound like half formed sound collages stretched out interminably without ever really taking off.
Digital Native takes on a slightly more experimental and progressive hue in the last third and it is in these last few tracks that the records evocative charms really do shine. Preda is a glorious piece of subtle house. Flutes and all sorts of strange sounds combine over a rolling house beat, the sound is disorienting but richly compelling. Sopor describes the sound as trying to, “convey a sense of mystery and danger” – a description that is fairly accurate. The nine minute long Transpelagic has a similarly translucent quality to it. Whereas the earlier tracks are slight and unmemorable, the last section of music cannot fail to draw you in.
Digital Native is an album that is fragile and elusive. Its main weakness is that are too few moments to really catch onto amid fleeting moments of beauty and invention. It is though certainly the work of a vivid and restless imagination. Polysick may be a project that errs onto the more outré and oblique side of dance music but there is still much here worth investigating for anyone with an interest in intelligent and challenging electronica.