Review: VA AA LR – Polis

VA AA LR - PolisPolis documents an installation that took place on the streets of Porto, in which polyrhythmic compositions were played out through car speaker systems at various locations over the town. This disc is the result of merging recordings on location with the source pieces, meaning that the busy and oblivious chatter of passers by gets caught up in the net. In the context of a public space, the trio’s pieces sound laboured and anxious – a respiratory mechanism of chains and unoiled hinges, pushing synthetic lungs outward with an unhealthy motorised heave. It’s a symphony of antiquated technology. All by-product, no action; a rusted chassis rattling in the flimsy confines of loose screws, doing a deplorable job at containing the feral growl of the engine behind it.

The interplay between the three musicians is an absolute delight. Each embarks on his own rotary cycle but remains delicately aware of his compatriots on either side, nestling into their rhythmic nooks and back-chatting those brash, punctuating spikes of volume. At times I can almost smell the cocktail of petrol and oil, or see the toxic black smog wafting into the air. Was the audio really run through the car speaker system, or rewired to billow under the bonnet and belch out the exhaust?