Woodford Halse and Polypores are two musical entities that encompass the term prolific, as label and artist both outputting a shit ton of great music and with impressive regularity. Seeing Polypores’ upcoming return to the label with new album ‘Infinite Interiors’ felt like a good opportunity to give a taste of the sounds, as well as some exclusive insights from the artist himself.
Grab a brew, hit play and read on…
So, this is by no means your first rodeo, how did Infinite Interiors come into being?
Like most of my albums in recent years, it wasn’t something I thought about too much, it was just sort of spewed out from the mysterious and perhaps mystical source from which all my music comes. I just had to create the environment (and the synth patches) to allow it to happen. It was kind of a dark time for me, there was a somewhat difficult personal situation which had been going on for some time, which I’d sort of dipped my toe into trying to process. And I think that fed into the music a fair bit, there’s a sort of darkness to the album. And a distinct lack of control. I think I perhaps made something that sounded vast and maybe a bit intimidating in places, which reflected the idea that I was processing stuff that I’d perhaps been in denial about.
So it’s kind of a subconscious exploration where a few internal barriers are broken down. I was reading “Piranesi” by Suzanna Clarke at the time, which I think influenced it to some extent. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone but a lot of the same themes are there. And perhaps the vast halls in that story were an influence on the deep, cavernous sound I was going for too.
Are you using a particular or unique approach to this cassette, compared to whats come before?
Well obviously it’s a lot more personal than most other Polypores records. Or at least it came from a place that I’m less comfortable sharing with people. Mining a different seam, so to speak. I fought it at first, because I generally like to make music that’s ultimately uplifting, or at least leaves a fairly pleasant taste in the mouth. Whilst this isn’t totally depressing, there are darker elements that I wouldn’t have included in previous albums. But it turned out to be quite cathartic by the end, the process of finishing it. The second half is a bit more uplifting, and eventually there’s a resolution to it. It’s not like obviously so, but I think that sort of confusion works for it. It’s like anything in the subsconscious – it can be both beautiful and frightening.
Technique – wise it was my first use of the Soma Pipe, which is a very weird voice synthesizer (like a psychedelic space kazoo) that ended up on a couple of tracks. So technically it’s the first Polypores album to feature my own voice too. It was also my first album using the Make Noise DPO as a primary oscillator, so it’s got a sort of raw, dirty sound to it. The two albums I’d recorded previously (Hyperincandescent and Crystal Shop) was very clean and bright sounding. Most albums I record tend to be a sort of sonic opposite to the previous one and I think this is no exception. It’s also got a track called The Flux which is 19 minutes long and was recorded on the afternoon of Christmas Day, which was my 40th birthday. I thought I’d give myself a present, and that present was that I got to record a massive big drifty 19 minute track. I didn’t worry about length, I just sat there in a nice wine/food haze and made this massive soundscape, which I think really is the heart of the album.
Does your recent foray into live synth practice, influence your studio work (and visa versa?)
I have been playing synths live for a good 6 years or so now, but it did definitely (and still does continue to) influence my studio work. So when I first started out with Polypores it was purely a studio project. But then Joe from Concréte Tapes (who released my first proper album and is at least 75% responsible for any success I’ve had) kept asking me to play live, so I found a way to make it happen.
I was never happy with it at first – then i worked out that was because I was trying to replicate my studio tracks in a live environment, and putting too much pressure on myself. So I started writing pieces of music specifically to be performed live. That made the whole thing easier because I wasn’t trying to replicate any kind of multitracked perfection. But then I started to move increasingly towards just recording live, to a point where, for every album I’ve done since Azure, I just record totally live with no overdubs. Sure I have less control over the mixing etc, but it has that magic feel to it that you just can’t replicate with overdubbing, in my opinion. It’s like that excitement and energy that comes from a performance. My background was really always in rock music, playing guitar/drums in bands and stuff. I learned there that it’s better for me to get the energy of a live take, than pore over multtracking and overdubs. I just lose interest and it sounds too forced.I’m not interested in perfection, I’m interested in getting something down that has my heart and soul in it. And multitracking sucks my soul. Because it feels like work rather than play.
I’ve recently done a few gigs with the Lyra 8 synthesizer, which kind of takes that to another level because it’s somewhat unpredictable. But I sort of enjoy that. Even though I’m someone who very much needs certainty and routine in most areas of my life, when it comes to music, I like to be able to escape that a bit.
Gig wise I have plenty coming up, all which will be on my modular system rather than the Lyra, as I feel like I was abandoning it a bit. I’ll list them below. I have an album out later in the year for Castles In Space, which has been delayed big time due to all the vinyl manufacture problems, but it’s going to be a really special package and I can’t wait for you to hear it and see the gorgeous cover. I’ve also just recorded an album using the Lyra, which we’re finalising the cover for now. That should be out next year via Frequency Domain. That’s as far as I’m going into the future for now, but if I die or retire after answering this questions then there’s two more out there which are musically finished, and I’m confident that the labels will treat them with respect and donate a portion of the money to a suitable charity.
I’ve also got some more stuff planned for my sample-based side project ZENYA, and as always more niche treats for my subscribers on Bandcamp. I think it’s important to keep busy!
- 19/08 – Carnival Brewing Company, Liverpool
- 23/09 – The Ferret, Preston
- 01/10 – Just Dropped In, Coventry
- 20/11 – The Continental, Preston (supporting Zombie Zombie)