In a sense, the minimal drones presented here are like photographs or, rather more specifically, like photography as a medium in contrast to film. Film demands the attention of so much in such a small space of time; even a couple of seconds can require us to process any number of visual details. A photograph on the other hand, or indeed a film still, allows for much greater contemplation through the unlimited time one has to absorb it. The same can be said of the individual pieces that make up Polyhedrons
, where unlike with Gray’s other work under his Ethernet pseudonym (for which he creates predominantly ambient techno), the listener is given the necessary time to absorb every subtle sound movement, independent from everything that may have once surrounded it.
In fact, the individual tracks on Polyhedrons
are very much like zooming in on an individual detail of an image, allowing the focus of one’s once divided attention to be exclusively fixated on that one particular section. As explained by Gray himself, sometimes whilst creating music for his Ethernet project, “an individual synthesizer patch would capture my attention and demand independent exploration”, which is exactly what we get here; an observation of details that would often go unnoticed in the context of busier surroundings.
is comprised of four lengthy ambient pieces, all with their own distinct mood and atmosphere. The first, Pentahedron
, is a beautifully serene soundscape which, while on the surface appears to be the very epitome of “background music”, reveals much greater depth when paid closer attention, highlighting what is essentially the very point of this release; attention to detail. Perhaps the most immediately engaging of the four ’hedrons
is the closer, Octahedron
, which is the most textured piece here with a greater sense of motion; drifting rather than dwelling in near-static stillness.
The piece which stands out the most is third track Tetrahedron
, which recalls a sound that lies somewhere between Mathias Grassow’s bleakest, most minimal soundscapes and the dark ambient of Deathprod’s Morals and Dogma. Unfortunately, however, it’s only its stylistic differences that make Tetrahedron
stand out on the album. Ultimately it is the weakest of the albums four pieces in the sense that it fails to achieve what the rest of the album finds Gray doing so well, which is creating trance-inducing drones that are hypnotic yet undemanding.
Whether the new approach to composing shown here is the start of a new direction for Gray, or whether it is simply a one off experiment inspired by particular details he picked up on during his other project, remains to be seen. Either way, Polyhedrons
, in keeping with its name, shows there are multiple faces to Gray as a musician and composer and interestingly this might be his best release to date, showing that the oft redundant cliché of ‘less is more’ is still, at lease in this case, a very accurate one.