Polvo's new album Siberia is in many ways a return, or at least in part is invocative of the past. Whereas on their last album, In Prism, Polvo created a record that seemed to pick up where they last left off, like a conversation recommenced years later but with no discernible break though the vocabulary had grown in texture and matured in eloquence; on Siberia, Polvo have continued that, but in a sense relating a story of the past thru the present lens. This is not to say Polvo have retreaded the same path or that they are rehashing anything. More it is the tone, the actual aural tone of the recording of the music, that harkens back to an earlier place on Polvo's trajectory, to the years between Today's Active Lifestyles and their EP This Eclipse, which was a time of incredible artistic growth for the band.
Siberia seems in many ways a similar point of embarking, a launch pad. From the first song, the aptly named "Total Immersion," the effect is immediate with no meandering, no toe dipping before diving in. But at the same time this is no quick hit of a song, it is expansive, and in fact most of the songs here are tho you would not know without looking at the actual track times as not one seems to be long enough when listening in the album (yes, "in the album" because this is not music that you listen to, it involves you). Part of what draws you into this music is the beauty of the flows, between songs, yes, but even more importantly the flow within the song. For instance, the song "Ancient Grains," starts with an almost Spanish Classical guitar riff, with the other guitar first countering the rhythm of the riff then sliding into an echo of it with the bass and drums working a dark waltz-like march behind it before sliding into the verses, and then back to the riff then out again and then into a break that has ghost-like traces of the riff weaved in and out of melodious cacophony that seems on the verge of breaking down all the way into dissonance and then emerges. It is almost like the best of Coltrane era jazz, but has more of a pattern, a design and even in its most dissonant moments, a cohesion that is firmly rooted in rock and roll. And hopefully, Siberia can be taken as a sign that this cohesion will continue, that there will be more records because Polvo, like a favorite writer, is an experience that you never want to end, that you want to grow and travel with you as if a soundtrack for a life, and I can truly think of no other band better able to score such a production with variety and intensity and melody.
Siberia by Polvo is out now from Merge Records .
A digital download was provided for review.