A polymath is the name given to a person who could be considered as having expert knowledge across a range of topics. da Vinci, for example, was a polymath. I am most certainly not one (unless Icelandic football and Doctor Who counts?).
Poly-Math are also a Brighton based three-piece, whose latest release House of Wisdom | We are the Devil has had me staring at a blank wall for the better part of a week, trying to think of the words to best describe it.
The band describe themselves as an instrumental prog-rock band who are “all glitchy, off-kilter guitars and shifting time signatures”, who openly joke about this being their “most meaty and pretentious release to date”, and there is no denying this is certainly all of those things. In other words, everything you could possibly ask for from a prog album.
For me however, I have oscillated between thinking this could be good, if you are so inclined, and thinking everyone involved in this release should turn in their ears for immediate inspection. In the end deciding it is almost certainly the former, and I am less music polymath, more music philistine.
That said, there are vast areas of this release I take issue with. At least there might be if I could remember a single note from its 70 minute run time. There is barely a single moment that sticks in the brain longer than the brief second it takes to process that noise is occurring. I know this because, to ensure I was not missing anything I listened to this release four times (That equates to 280 minutes!) and I struggle to remember a second of what I’d listened too.
My notes on the album (because I’m not listening for a fifth time!) mention track 7 ‘Alchemy | Terra Incognita’ as being the stand out of the 12 tracks, and listening again it is one that really feels the most organic, flowing effortlessly, as if a well written story.
Track 4 ‘Geography | Alamut/Sidh’ however, is nightmare fodder. A haunting collection of sound bites, heavily manipulated into a mercifully short 1:15 ordeal.
Overall, it would feel harsh to give this release a low score based on my own musical ignorance of the genre. It is well recorded, with good production values, and undeniable passion and ability has gone into this. If prog-rock is your bag, then this could a genuinely enjoyable experience for you, and so I would recommend checking them out.