Pure analog sweetness from Preston’s Polypores (Stephen James Buckley) here. Flora is one of those British synth LPs in the Ghost Box/Radiophonic Workshop vein. Electronics purr and twinkle as Buckley spins out tender almost-melodies across these ten tracks. If you’re partial to a little Boards Of Canada then you should make haste for Flora.
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- Flora by Polypores
2018 saw one of the hottest summers on record, narrowly 'beating' that of 1976 where extreme heat caused a severe drought and forest fires in the south of England. When others were lying spread-eagle on beach towels bleating for shade or sat in pubs roaring on the England football team, Polypores, the alias of Stephen James Buckley, was walking the landscapes of the North West. Here, he collected field recordings of cricket stridulation and running water to inspire him while creating his synth pieces. These field recordings ended up being crucial, with Buckley pleasingly describing them as the 'compost', of 'Flora', his new album.
'Flora' is a dense and textured work, conveying the dream-like state one can enter when surrounded completely by nature. Buckley even says "I don't even feel like I wrote it myself - more that I channelled it". This is reflected in the formless and often meandering progression of the album's pieces. Of course, everything is sure to have been meticulously crafted but that initial flash of inspiration seems to form a vital part of each piece. Take the album's title track. Bound together by one single synth arpeggio motif, it's the aural representation of a barber's pole illusion, twisting and turning but staying, somehow, within the confines set out for it. This motif is the prime mover of this particular track, and so rather than chopping and changing it, Buckley lets it run and run, and fits everything else around it. This trick is repeated on tracks like 'Into The Tangle' and 'Giants'.
Nature and specifically flora (see what he did there) is a really fertile (geddit?) area for inspiration in electronic music; consider Mort Garson's 'Plantasia' or Lydia Ainsworth's 'Phantom Forest'. Plants are good analogues for synthesizers, machines that vary slightly in form and function, prone to glitches and mistakes. I feel like I could write an essay on 'Flora', but we're definitely discouraged from doing that here at Norman so I will this piece to a close. Polypores has created a record that sounds like a huge, more terrifying, evolutionary descendent of Mort Garson's 'Plantasia'.
If 'Plantasia' is a greenhouse, then 'Flora' is a jungle.
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