There’s something quite majestic and magical about Polypores’ latest release Shpongos. For his last few releases within the modular synth world, Stephen James Buckley has been deep diving into not only the mechanics of the modular synth, but the mechanics of humanity and the world within which humanity ebbs and flows. Using this machine as a thru-way into something far beyond just some buzzes and beeps, Buckley wants to connect on a cellular and organic level. Using circuital language to communicate and connect on a very human level.
With Shpongos, Polypores explores the world of fungi, and the interconnected world fungi creates just under the forest floor. A wholly organic information super highway that helps to break down matter in order to give it another purpose. If there’s someone on this planet that can make a modular synth concept record about fungi and make it engaging, thoughtful, and epic even, then that person is Stephen James Buckley.
You don’t need to be a Mycologist in order to appreciate Shpongos. Hell, you can be a Midwestern hayseed from Northeast Indiana and still fall head over heels for this record. Just on an emotional and visceral level this album pulls you in right away. Unlike Polypores last release, the chaotic and kinetic Chaos Blooms, Shpongos unfolds slowly and with much purpose. You can almost imagine a time lapse film of a wood-decaying bracket growing while listening to the hypnotic “Prototaxite”. It’s bubbling electronics and cascading baritone tones carry you deep into some ancient woods, sunlight hid from a 10,000 year-old forest roof. “Soil Computer” is another subtle pop and patter modular tome that bounces around like a ping pong ball on an endless concrete floor.
Title track “Shpongos” carries with it a gorgeous, serene mood. It’s playful and almost joyful in its sonic elegance. Listening to this song I feel there’s a correlation between the fungi and it’s connected world under the soil and the vast openness of space. Both are worlds filled with wonder and unknowns that we’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of. Closing track “Exopheromones” is epic in sound and scope. It hints at a universe of riches, which reside right under our feet on that wooded hike.
As Polypores, Stephen James Buckley continues to hone his skill as a master of the modular synth. But more than that, he’s reached a point in his compostional work where he’s moved past the buzzing experimentation and reeling in the chaos of the circuit and found a beating heart amongst those crossed wires and flashing lights. Shpongos is proof of that.
8.8 out of 10
Polypores’ ‘Shpongos’ is out now on Behind The Sky. Buy it here.