Accelera Deck: Pop Polling
Scarcelight Recordings

While Pop Polling is, formally speaking, Chris Jeely's full-length follow-up to 2003's Ipsissima Vox, the experimental guitarist has hardly been dormant, having released in the interim 2004's EP Sunstrings and the 3-inch Ski, as well as the Summerland and Cavalo Blues 3-inch discs under his Your Favorite Horse alias. While all are memorable for one reason or another, Pop Polling impresses even more by distinguishing itself as a fully-integrated statement that unfolds with carefully considered deliberation. Even better, the 53-minute album is all new material, with the exception of “Ski,” returning here in a truncated four-minute form. As before, Jeely coaxes a galaxy of sound from his guitar, though this time out generally eschews crushing caterwauls of noise like those in Sunstrings' seventeen-minute noisefest “Dross.” Throughout Pop Polling, spidery sparklings, bucolic flutter, and swirling stutters appear, couched in dense drone and hazy ambient settings—all presumably generated using computer and guitar.

The album delineates a trajectory that begins with the gorgeous melancholy of “Pop Polling,” all delicate, spindly filigrees of keening splinters, progressively turns more abstract and abrasive, then gradually recovers with the more peaceful “As Always,” a nine-minute wavering drone outro. The album's scarred core, however, is the amazing twelve-minute meltdown “Lips.” Dissonant scrapings, feedback howls, and writhing squalls resound in this ruined landscape. Less epic though powerful too is “Sunskull” whose sombre theme is besieged and ultimately swallowed by grinding, convulsive thrums of static and noise that eventually self-destruct.

Thematic undertows in “Ferric” and “Passerine” traffic in the kind of dramatic, muffled grandeur one associates with Tim Hecker and Fennesz (“Ferric” especially beautiful with its tactile oasis of tropical glissandi and broad bruising swirls) but Jeely leaves his unique stamp too, especially on the epic “Lips.” Much more than a mere gathering of unrelated tracks, Pop Polling impresses most of all for being a complete and unified experience.

May 2005