Music Reviews
Like Hearts Swelling

Polmo Polpo Like Hearts Swelling

(Constellation) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

A new artist on the Constellation roster? It's not often fresh talent is brought to the label, presumably because of the high quality level set by other bands (except the frankly dire 1 speed bike) but the brilliantly named Polmo Polpo lives up to expectations.

Sandro Perri, the one-man force behind Polmo Polpo (even his real name is superb), gained some recognition for his debut release The Science of Breath, a collection of 12" releases, featuring a unique take on glitch-y dance, combining acoustic instruments with electronic beats. Fans of that record may be slightly surprised by Like Hearts Swelling. The move to Constellation has resulted in Perri picking up some of the trademarks of his label-mates, which is by no means a bad thing.

The album is, however, quite unlike anything else available on Constellation, mainly because of the upbeat nature of the music. The focus is on long, drone-rock style jams, similar to the not-climactic bits of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Lift Yr. Skinny Fists..., building on repetitive passages to create a beautiful wall of sound. Opener Romeo Heart follows a single melody played out on guitar, whilst waves of static, drenched in reverb, wash around the tune, slowly building to a tremendous climax. Throughout the record, many of the instruments, particularly anything percussive, have a sublime distant quality to them, as if played submerged at the bottom of the ocean, or painted across a canvas, and then smudged almost beyond recognition. The beats, therefore, are never truly obtrusive, creating a dreamlike quality to the album.

Perri avoids the pitfalls of many an ambient recording by cleverly sequencing the record so that between the three drone tracks lie Requiem for a Fox and Sky Histoire, both alive with percussion. The latter particularly shakes and rattles along, with tambourines rolling atop guitar and string lines. Remarkably the track is thirteen minutes, though doesn't feel longer than five.

The album's highlight though is undoubtedly Requiem for a Fox, combining the best of both styles present here. For seven minutes the track builds more static effects, slide guitar and distant drums, before subtly shifting to a mid-tempo dance beat, backed by acoustic guitars. If listened to closely, there are numerous hidden intricacies to each track, though the beauty of Like Hearts Swelling is that nothing appears forced. The audiophile with expensive headphones and an eye for detail will get as much from the record as the casual listener needing something to relax to post-night out.

Like Hearts Swelling is a beautiful, hypnotic record. Quite often I find myself hitting play on the CD as soon as it ends, and lying back for another fifty relaxing minutes. It's hard to find fault with Perri's work; if the idea of five upbeat, laid back instrumental tunes appeals to you, then you can't go wrong with Polmo Polpo.