Once the neon mist lifts and we’re left with a horizon view, Polinski’s Telex From MIDI City takes flight. Synth arrangements drip with romantic longing and hazy visages from another world. Built atop a frenetic foundation of intricate, angular rhythms, vaporized circuitry finds new life as reclaimed memories from beyond the divide. Arpeggios glean the emotion from warp-speed missives and bend them toward the melodic pinnacle atop gilded skyscrapers floating in the fluorescent clouds. It’s such a vivid, memorable album I had to ask Paul (Wolinski) to break it down.
Telex From MIDI City is out now on Data Airlines.
Distant Friend, I Love You!
A manifesto for friendship, comradeship, and the communal solidarities that we manage to create together in the face of overwhelming alienation and isolation. Written in late 90s IDM beats and beat-up samples.
Telex From MIDI City
Once upon a time, I thought the future was something ahead of us. These days it is abundantly clear that humanity is riding a rocket ship to oblivion, and that is not the direction I want to travel. I think that if there is any kind of alternative future to be salvaged, then it is to be found by digging through the wreckage of the past. To find clues that suggest none of this mess we inherited was inevitable. That human existence doesn’t need to be designed this way. Endless economic growth above life itself need not be the miserable limit to our collective horizon. I am just a musician, and so the only way I can think to be useful and play my tiny part in altering this trajectory we’re all on is to interrogate this idea through the medium of making an imaginary utopian city and broadcasting messages from it in the shape of massive electronic bangers like this one.
When writing these days, I no longer desperately convince myself that there is a ‘new music’ out there to be found. Rather, I am trying to figure out how to reappropriate already-established ideas from the death claws of nostalgia. A teasing out of what I think is a crucial distinction. On the one hand, there is the backward-looking, retro, nostalgic escapism and musical anesthetic that is a symptom of that rotten system known as capitalism. On the other hand, I am becoming convinced (or more honestly, I am trying to convince myself) that intentional archeology and the wielding of tried and tested musical forms and ideas can help us build a kind of historical scaffolding that shows we don’t need to wait until the future arrives to cultivate new and better ways of being. The tools have been here this whole time.
We can just choose to do things differently. Let’s go!
I dunno; this one is probably my sonic equivalent of being an old man yelling at clouds. I love the youth of pop music, I love how fast it moves, and I love its lack of respect for old forms. Some days a small part of me is exhilarated by the idea that kids would rather watch 10-second dance clips algorithmically fed to them by TikTok than listen to a ‘proper’ song. But at the same time, it’s a kind of horror, isn’t it? It’s the eating alive of pop culture by capitalism. The kids deserve better. This tune is a weird banger. YOUTH BEFORE OBLIVION!!
I mean, one way or another, a lot of the future is going to be underwater, right? Might as well give it a good soundtrack. If Square Enix made a JRPG of Kevin Costner’s Water World, this would probably play on the pause screen.
Proof of Life
In days gone by, the aforementioned (now abandoned) thought that there was still a new kind of music to be found led me to employ some pretty tough tactics when it came to songwriting. I did not have much time for genre. Anything that sounded too much like the old days sparked a pretty radical reaction. ‘Traditions of the dead weighing like nightmares on the living,’ that kind of thing. Perhaps I broadly still believe that, but I cannot deny that over time I found myself more and more drawn to certain examples of hypergenre. Kick drums and synth arpeggios, and a lot of reverb is pretty much always going to make me happy, no matter how derivative it is. And so this song is me trying to come to terms with that. Maybe this is a softening. Is it a kind of musical maturity? I certainly hope not. Perhaps the entire ideology behind this record has been painstakingly engineered by my psyche so that when I make songs like this, I don’t feel complicit in the slow death of creativity, trapped in a closed loop, the edges of which are forever being blunted as it is subsumed by capital.
Great guitar melody too. Would listen again. 10/10.
What would it sound like if the ocean was the sky? I love this time signature. I don’t understand why time signatures that are not 4/4 haven’t been fully embraced by modern hyper pop… Who has the time to listen to the last chord in a four-chord chorus these days!? The Pixies used to drop beats or bars all the time, didn’t they? Why didn’t that catch on? Maybe if I was a better dancer writing in 4/4 would come more naturally to me.
Anyway, this song is too good and means too much to me to be explained away by its formal aspects. Pretty sure it got written somewhere in the first COVID lockdown. In hindsight, it probably should have been called The Sonorous Below. Too late to change it now. But that’s the heart of it somehow. A deep, enveloping warmth of an ocean devouring you whole. Perhaps this is what being able to breathe underwater would sound like.
Goth Club Eternal. It somehow sounds like this song’s shadows are cast at a different angle to the shadows of the other songs on here. Or maybe the shadow it casts is darker. Maybe it is bigger than it ought to be. I wonder if this song looked in a mirror, whether it would have a reflection. And why ‘95’ haunts? Is it a year? A quantity? A measure of ghosts?
Other Worlds Parts 1 & 2
This song took me a long time to write, and I don’t know how I did it. I could say that about most songs I have written, but it somehow seems especially true of this one. I feel like I leveled up here if I’m being honest. It is not the catchiest or most direct, or most emotionally charged song on the album. But it feels alive to me in some particular way that reassures me that I am not wasting my time here. That all of this is worth it. It is something I am deeply proud of, and I think it is probably the best thing I have written outside of 65daysofstatic. So far. All music I have ever written, either by myself or with my band, can be described simply as all of the things I want to say that I do not have the words for. That’s all this song is, really. It’s just the stuff I want to say. I wish I could learn to talk in the language of this song. But until then, I suppose I’ll just keep banging out MIDI patterns and noise.