With a new album of flickering screens, humming oscillators and songs from distant radios in the offing, I gained entry into the mysterious world of Polypores and found out what experiments were being conducted in his laboratory.
Polypores is Stephen James Buckley. He is part vintage sound archivist, part cold-war soundscaper and operates from a small home studio in Preston in the North West of England, weaving sounds and textures to create electronic, lo-fi sci-fi soundtracks.
There is a pastoral spookiness to his music evoking UK 70’s kids TV shows, vintage public information films, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and library music. His sound is one of warped tape saturation and machine hum. There are ambient echoes of transformer coils and the static charge of a post-storm downpour.
Polypores‘ first full-length album, The Investigation, was released on Bandcamp in February 2015. It has a retro science fiction vibe throughout. Like your favourite mad scientist episode of The Avengers, there are tales of fiendish experiments and the warping of nature. Spectral synth tones haunt each track as if filtered through demonic EVP sessions and flickering monochrome.
This was followed by The Edgewoods EP. Shifting the focus to more urban settings and industrialised ruinscapes. Stephen expertly layers disjointed loops, samples and detuned analogue synthesisers to create a collage of nostalgia, futurism and Ballardian dystopia.
This October sees his latest LP, A Shunned Place, released. The album wanders out into the countryside and has a British folk-horror feel to it. It draws influence from composers like Fabio Frizzi and John Carpenter as well as more contemporary artists like Demdike Stare, Actress, Pye Corner Audio and The Haxan Cloak.
Slowed-down tape recordings of birdsong sit alongside drifting analogue synths, distorted drum machines and distant choirs. There’s an element of disquieting nostalgia among the tape hiss and witch-drums.
Stephen says, “The album marks a change in approach from previous releases, and is largely informed by work done in preparation for live sets. The arrangements are more stripped down, less dependent on overdubs and minute details. The limited sonic palette proved to be more of an inspiration than a hindrance, and around 30 tracks were written in the space of 2 months. The tracks that don’t make the album may appear on Soundcloud in the near future…”
Polypores is releasing his latest album at Concrète on October 25th in suitably retro cassette tape format and will also be on his Bandcamp page to download.
A Shunned Place is released on October 25th