Ingo Lindmeier is something of a hidden genius. As Polygon, he’s recorded a classic album of interstellar dark ambient in Omnon, an instrumental album of masterful IDM minimalism in [Images], and a throwback collection of English-vocal electro anthems entitled Refuge, among a variety of collaborations (most notably Polyspace, with For a Space), remixes, and compilation tracks. He even ran his own label: the now-defunct Polymorph Records. As it had been ten years since his last official release, the digital-only Infinity, I’d written him off as moving on.
I’m happy to be wrong. Sein Lernen, Polygon’s new album, marks Lindmeier’s return to Aliens Production, the Slovakian experimental label that’s quietly been churning out quality releases across an assortment of electronic genres since 1997. Sein Lernen is also a return of sorts to the electro-based style of Refuge, Polygon’s first official release, and I don’t think it’s any accident that 2015 is the twentieth anniversary of Lindmeier’s debut. While the foundation is familiar, Sein Lernen is full of the signature sound and style that Polygon has developed during its existence.
Polygon shares much of the genre-spanning uniqueness of acts such as Forma Tadre, with its ability to shift from ambient to EBM to IDM and back again with seemingly little effort. While Sein Lernen has vocals on just about every track—all in German this time—and the music follows more focused and traditional structures, this is still undoubtedly Polygon, from the slow-paced, glitch-inspired, programmed percussion to the icy, minimal piano melodies and clinical spaciousness. This is a tightly written and deftly programmed album, gone over and over again with the finest of digital toothcombs.
However, Sein Lernen (which translates as “learn to be” or “your learning”) doesn’t feature the same level of experimentation that made earlier releases stand out from Lindmeier’s contemporaries. The incredible atmosphere of the alien abduction-based Omnon is a distant echo (dark ambient fans, go track down Omnon now), and the ingenious rhythms and patterns of [Images] have been distilled into predictability. Worse, Lindmeier is guilty of recycling previously used material on Sein Lernen. The music of “Gemeinsammer Nemer” is directly lifted from “Wo A,” a Polygon track from the 2005 Aliens Production compilation, Signs, and “Der Konstrukteur” does the same to “Bin,” originally released on Funkwelten Records‘ 2005 label compilation. Both reworked tracks have new production and vocals on Sein Lernen, but it was disappointing to hear the same material. For new listeners, this is less of an issue, of course, but long-time fans might be a tad let down, especially after such a long layoff.
And yet, there’s something about Polygon’s formula that remains deeply satisfying. Lindmeier’s voice moves smoothly from throaty mumbles to bold chants and whispers as he contemplates memories, dreams, and existence. Thematically, it’s new and introspective ground for him, and it’s enhanced by the inclusion of female guest vocals courtesy of Ruth Messmer on “Sein Lassen.” There are wonderfully inspired passages on Sein Lernen as well: the beautiful synths of “Endstation” and the creepy atmosphere of “Autophobie” and “Kalter Fleck.” The closing track, “Erinerrung an Mich,” contains some of the best songwriting Lindmeier has ever offered, and as the title translates as “remember me,” the sense that this album is Polygon’s curtain call grows stronger.
I’ve always preferred Polygon’s music to its vocals, and Sein Lernen does little to change my mind. However, the album is a showcase for what makes Lindmeier such an enduring and somewhat overlooked talent. His music does not fit easily into any single style, taking bits and pieces and molding them into something very personal and unique. In this sense, Polygon shares much with Forma Tadre, Andreas Meyer‘s brilliant and deeply influential EBM/ambient hybrid project. If Sein Lernen is the last we hear from Ingo Lindmeier, it’s more than a fitting farewell.
02) Tag Ohne Gestern
05) Gemeinsamer Nenner
06) Kalter Fleck
07) Der Konstrukteur
08) Der Lugner
10) Sein Lassen
11) Der Traumer
12) Erinnerung an Mich