Polydistortion by Gusgus (Review)

Throws a wrench into the idea that 4AD will forever be consigned to releasing ethereal female-fronted groups.
Polydistortion Gusgus

What’s going on in Iceland?!? It must be all of that geothermal energy they have, because something’s fueling this album. Polydistortion is, of all things, a funk album. Albeit, a space-age tundra funk album, but a funk album nonetheless, completely throwing a wrench into the idea that 4AD will forever be consigned to pushing out ethereal female-fronted groups.

The aptly named “Gun” sounds like it should be on the soundtrack to some movie about swank, polished hitmen (hello… John Woo anyone?!?). Both “Believe” and “Polyesterday” have swagger and braggadacio to spare… like John Shaft if he had wandered into a William Gibson novel.

But the GusGus crew have also got soul. “Why?” has jilted female vocals over muted beats and a sassy Rhodes Piano, kind of like something you’d hear in some New York Club in Harlem 2020 AD. The music of “Is Jesus Your Pal?” sounds like it was recorded about 2000 feet underwater, and the vocalist sounds like she’s slowly drowning as she longingly sings “Is Jesus your pal? Do you call out His name when your conscience is shivering?” The album ends with “Purple,” perhaps the most “techno” song on an album that many consider “techno,” though it still packs more soul than most beatmasters have.

All in all, something I reach for quite frequently at work… much to the chagrin of my co-workers. But when that awesome hip-hop beat (complete with cowbell) on “Believe” kicks in, nothing else really seems to matter.

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