In the first of a new series that concentrates on the ideas behind and conception of bands’ artwork, Poly-Math bass player Joe Branton discusses the process for new album ‘Melencolia’, released through Superstar Destroyer Records just a few days ago.
And we’ve an exclusive download of ‘Ekerot’, from the Brighton trio’s recent Live At The Old Mill Studio Sessions too – enjoy!
For ‘Melencolia’ we decided to return to Sam Hall who had designed our artwork for our previous release, ‘Reptiles’. We had decided to return to a very similar theme for this record so it made sense for us to keep the artwork between records consistent. Previously, ‘Reptiles’ had been inspired by several lithographs by M.C Escher – the cover art itself was a homage to Escher’s Hand Drawing Hand, and we wanted to find inspiration in another artist with similar mathematic tendencies, which lead us to Dürer.
Dürer’s lithographs are actually far less mathematical than Escher’s and so we found relevance between our music and the artwork in different ways. I think we probably ended up agreeing on Dürer a little more tenuously than we had Escher the year before. Each track married with one of Dürer’s pieces based on the overriding theme of the lithograph against what we felt the overriding theme was of a particular track. In the end we used several pieces both for musical themes, and in deciding on the ideal piece to inspire our cover art.
Dürer’s Melencolia i was the piece most fundamental in inspiring the content of ‘Melencolia’, the piece features a Magic Cube (a mathematical equation within a square grid), which we actually used as the cover art for our free single release, Ekerot. The record itself includes audio of extracts from German critiques of the lithograph, both at the start and the end of the album, as well as a description of the piece, Knight, Death and The Devil (all in German).
Despite choosing ‘Melencolia’ as the record title, the artwork for this album is actually inspired by Dürer’s Hands Praying. We’d been initially drawn to Sam’s art because of his unique and detailed depictions of muscles and sinew, especially present in the drawing hands of the first record. The praying hands allowed Sam to revisit the themes of ‘Reptiles’, but add some progression. Once again Sam took the initial concept and added his own grotesque slant in the addition of visible muscle and sinew, but he also arranged the piece (as he had done previously) into a symmetrical shape, making the piece into more an emblem than a piece of art.
It’s lots of fun creating meaning in instrumental music, and we really enjoy the theme building process, the connection between the music and the cover art is so much more important when it’s all you have to explain yourself. We totally get that some people might think it’s pretentious, but we really didn’t want to be another math band with meaningless song names. That said we have been quite pretentious in going as far as to introduce a little Easter egg referencing ‘Reptiles’ on ‘Melencolia”s cover art. The Poly-Math logo is an impossible cube, it features on all our artwork and is used at the centre of the Reptiles cover, but for this record we changed the logo to an impossible triangle, which is actually a concept created and drawn by Escher. I imagine we’ll do something equally over the top on our next record referencing Dürer.
With this record we have aimed to be more dissonant, less riff driven than anything we’ve done previously, and more able to move into freeform or soundscape style pieces that we tried to give a more macabre overtone. There is an unease in Sam’s artwork that we felt perfectly fits with the music we’re trying to make, and the uncomfortable, often gothic scenes portrayed in Dürer’s art.
Poly-Math will tour the UK this April and May, catch them at:
21 Glasgow, Broadcast (w/ Lets Talk Daggers)
22 Edinburgh, Opium (w/ Lets Talk Daggers)
24 Manchester, The Crescent (w/ Lets Talk Daggers)
08 Basingstoke, Sanctuary (w/ Tides From Nebula)
09 London, Boston Music Room (w/ Tides From Nebula)
10 Glasgow, Audio (w/ Tides From Nebula)
11 Leicester, Firebug (w/ Tides From Nebula)