POLEJAM's debut EP ‘Switch’ opens with all of the hallmarks of the modern lo-fi aesthetic without ever completely adhering to a sound that has become as tiresome as it is ubiquitous. Initially atmospheric and evolving, the aptly named 'Switch' leads the listener into believing that the theme of the track is already firmly established, before segueing into a delightfully demented rave jam.
Where many lo-fi house and techno tracks seem to obsess over postmodernism, 'Switch' lacks any such pretence. Italo-esque piano chords distort almost beyond recognition, while expertly chopped breakbeats and the classic 'one track in, one track out' approach to early electronic music sequencing, all come together to form a dizzying workout that paints both an ecstatic and nostalgic picture of the 90s rave scene. When 'Switch' finally wanes, it does so in whispers of tape noise and the same dreamy pads that heralded the track — an overture that now feels like a very long time ago — a fleeting recollection that has been twisted and contorted by the sheer madness of the EP's first offering.
If 'Switch' was a nod to dance music's past, then the EP's second track, 'Long Distance Ollie’, is POLEJAM's acknowledgement of the present sounds of the underground; sounds that are unshackled from the fetishisation of classic drum machines and synthesisers. On 'Long Distance Ollie', tormented metallic clangs and abused percussion blend together in a cacophonous yet cohesive celebration of catharsis. The first heavings of the bassline give the impression that the low end is struggling to pick itself up under both its own girth and the rapturous rhythm that endures throughout. The track concludes with a frighteningly busy outro segment that is as unruly and restless as everything that preceded it. It's hard to wax lyrical about a track that barely allows you to take a breath, and 'Long Distance Ollie' is one such number.
Emerging almost immediately from the din and sputter of electrical interference, the wheeling arpeggios and skipping rhythms of 'Began to Float' introduce the final and most pastiche workout on a laudable debut EP. Impulsive sequences of drum hits underpin a rigid spoken mantra of "I began to float”, bestowing a breathless urgency to the track that never quite allows the listener to perceive it as the sum of its parts. Alas, the mishmash crescendos of 'Began to Float' never do enough to save it from bobbing along in the wake of the penultimate number.
Released October 14, 2017