Referencing sci-fi, C.S. Lewis, and alien worlds, the compositions of Marek Poliks each have a central metaphor like alien environment and warmth, spaceship and cradling, performed by ensembles using traditional and electronic instruments and objects.
Label: Another Timbre
Released in: UK
Interview with Marek Poliks
'Hull Not Continent' and 'Treader Always In Station' are both distinctive and unusual titles. What do they refer to, and does this have any direct input into the music?
I want my music to invite people into material experiences of alien environments. It's a trick, it's a heuristic for embodiment. When I allow a sensation to belong to a self-sustaining world outside of my own - my world, the world I am responsible for maintaining - I can relax the more stubborn corners of my attention into my body. The more realistic the alien world, the greater the effect.
And, so, here come the titles:
'Hull Not Continent' - this other world is not a place to live, but it's a thing that keeps me safe.
'[Dawn] Treader Always In Station' - I'm leaving my body with my body, I'm leaving without leaving. (And for me the C.S. Lewis reference touches both sci-fi escapism and the obstacles of Cartesian dualism).
Your music is hard to categorise, which is one of its strengths for me. But I wonder how - if pushed - you would describe it? Not in terms of genre, but literally how you describe the kinds of sounds you are using, and how you organise them?
So again the goal is helping people feel safe and warm and in their bodies (if they need help doing so). I want them to explore or discover something concurrently with or as a means to embodiment. Each work has a central metaphor like alien environment and warmth, spaceship and cradling - also the club, and club music, which is always its own soundtrack.
I think these invitations have a gestural model, there is a push against a black hole of physical emergency. The push aspirates my music, and then it scurries into alien plants or radiators or sunlight or whatever. Sometimes it gets stuck and needs to articulate itself many times. Sometimes it works and I get to do my best electroacoustic impression of speculative field recordings for a long time. Everything collapses in service to the speculative world's physics.
The push forms the skeleton of 'hull' - it might help to listen to the piece through that gestural model. 'treader' features the push too, but it's a downward push, it's a relaxing push actually - caverns after sub-basement after basement after basement - pushes after the first push.
You refer to an 'electroacoustic impression of speculative field recordings'. Though both pieces are composed fully down to the finest detail, the soundworlds of both pieces remind me of electroacoustic improvisation. Is that a reference point for you and a genre that you are familiar with?
A lot of people have said this to me! I have a lot of respect for that field and I can sense the similarity. Most EAI has a materialist underpinning, right? - it honors the specific physicalities and agencies of the instruments and objects involved. One could go so far as to say that it takes these forces as its material. But I think that a materialist musical project inevitably amplifies the human interpretive physicality as well - a human hand exploring a metal disc reveals the disc but also discloses its fingers. Fingers seem central to EAI, at least as far as I understand it. I think my sci-fi materialism is almost in conflict with fingers? For now, I like the conflict.
I was struck by your decision to insert a long pause between the two pieces on the disc. Why did you want this silence?
It's like an airlock. Each world has a different vibe-atmosphere, so we need to de/repressurize. I think it helps 'treader' establish its vibe on its own, less in relation to 'hull'.
Could you say how you came to experimental music? Where did you start and what are the key things that brought you to where you are now?
Marilyn Manson! When I first heard 'Mechanical Animals', I was so struck by its sense of world. His music felt really empowering to me. Even though these worlds were horrible and creepy, they felt like places I could escape to. I would put on 'Holy Wood' and go to the ocean, and the music made the ocean more intense, more alien. Classic teen. From there to trance music, ambient, etc... eventually leading me to the avant-garde, which is kind of the ultimate escapism. The a-g works in totally platonic space - listening to it requires building these constellations of formal markers, internal and historical references, etc.... I liked that for a long time. At some point I realized that the a-g (and maybe even artmaking more generally) is actually the practice of distance - that between matter and its halo, ceremonial role, kyriarchal history, hologram. A-g art's a type of gaze, whereby matter is owned and enframed and assumed into discourse. It's romantic too. This gaze is the archetypal romantic gesture (the lifting, the elevation). Residual matter is cloaked in incense smoke. I'm generalizing, but I think you know what I mean?
And on the other hand, the escapism I'm after really isn't romantic at all. I love to look at sci-fi handbooks and dictionaries and maps of fake planets. This kind of documentation gives me a necessary level of detail for the speculative world to feel realistic. I don't think you can effect world through symbolic play - the goal is precisely to not be abstract! These days I listen to a lot of videogame soundtracks, to a lot of minimal house from the mid-aughts, and to lots and lots of trap music (which for me is really the music most engaged with a non-metaphorical viscerality). And of course the ambient and the goth/industrial/dark ambient have stuck with me. I think that the 'Holy Wood' project is where I'm ending up again - I want to amplify the ocean and make it more intense, not amplify my subjectivity in relation to the ocean.
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Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at95
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"Hull Not Continent" (2014) recorded at the University of Huddersfield 13th August 2015
"Treader Always In Station" (2014) recorded at the Harvard University Studio for Electroacoustic Composition 15/16th December 2015.
Roc’o Bolanos-bass clarinet, percussion
Daniel Brew-electric guitar
Emma Richards-percussion, electronics
Beth Weisser-viola, objects, ekectronics
John Pickford Richards-viola, objects, electronics
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1. Hull Not Continent 5:15
2. Hull Not Continent 14:57
3. Hull Not Continent 2:06
4. Pause / Treader Always In Station 1:30
5. Treader Always In Station 3:52
6. Treader Always In Station 8:32
7. Treader Always In Station 13:18
8. Treader Always In Station 5:42
9. Treader Always In Station 3:05