Polygon – Images

Polymorph Records (POLYMORPH 06), 2001

Ingo Lindmeier’s genre-hopping Polygon project spanned ambient, dark ambient, electro, and IDM over its various releases, but Images, released in 2001, is perhaps the most assured.  While Refuge (1995) featured an emphasis on vocals and a a clear electro foundation, and Omnon (1999) was assuredly dark ambient, Images is both of these, spliced together, with the vocal element removed.  Containing the interstellar themes and ice-clear, meticulously mixed electronics that give the project its identity, Images is a transfixing journey through a realm of outer space atmospheres and programming prowess.

“Incoming Distance” opens the odyssey with a series of garbled vocal samples concerning the mind’s inability to accept full reality (a common theme for Lindmeier) while whirs and pulses create an otherworldly sense of unease, and of undiscovered realms.  It’s a step beyond the bizarrely alien ambiance of Omnon, for there’s more direction and variety on display now, while retaining the strangeness that has always marked Lindmeier’s work.

“Isolated Memory” follows – yes, all the track begin with “i” – and is much more structured, with interlocking beeps and lightly glitched percussion, while electro-influenced elements fill in the crystalline space.  There is foundation and purpose here, harkening back to the song-oriented Refuge, and before long, the sounds fall into place and melody emerges alongside a brittle IDM beat.  Images has a powerful sense of space, but dots and dusts its panoramas with minimal points and blushes; there’s a void here, but sparsely and precisely inhabited.  “Irrational Behave” follows a similar template, with staccato stutters and an odd shuffling beat that wobbles uncertainly as a forlorn melody floats in the distance.

The beat-free zero-G ambiance returns for “Introspection” before we’re grounded once again by the frigid aura and particulate beat of the title track, with another trademark minimal Lindmeier melody spiking the EBM base with needles of ice.  The pace is slow, as on most of the record, but this is a vital part of allowing the vistas to gape wide enough for the listener to ascend into with little effort.  “Idealism” is perhaps the most tuneful and hyperactive track on the album, with a hesitant piano edging its way into a mix of splintering fractal fragments sent into the distance in tight formations under Lindmeier’s close attention.  After “Icing,” another ambient foray, we’re treated to the bristling energy and old-school sequencing of “Imprint” before the deliciously frigid loops and head-nodding down-tempo groove of “Illustrated”; this is space-travel gone cool, and not necessarily due to the temperature.  Type finishes the album with a remix of “Image” that is a good deal more mechanical and heavier, not to mention a tad more foreboding, showing how close Polygon’s own work comes to not sliding into that tantalizing pit.

Image is aloof and distant, but it’s not emotionless.  Lindmeier’s fingerprints are all over the clicks, rhythms, buzzes, and synths; yes, he’s got something of a clinical, antiseptic precision about his arrangements – it’s easy to listen to this and imagine wandering through spotless white corridors and featureless rooms – but Images never becomes fully detached.  There’s a sense of the organic throughout Images, because machines could never create something on their own that did not carry the feelings of wonder, purpose, and self-awareness so clearly present.

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