Long-form tonal work was formally introduced to me by the 1998 work of Éliane Radigue, Trilogie de la morte. Tim Gray, who is otherwise largely known for his work as Ethernet on Kranky, recently issued a new album in Polyhedrons that is strangely reminiscent of the pace found on Ms. Radigue’s brilliant album (although significantly faster paced on some tracks). On Polyhedrons, Gray sounds as if he is creating music that is almost beyond the grasp of man, yet by joining with machine he hopes to extend his reach into infinity. This slow-moving music of the universe expands and contracts while alternately lulling the listener into a reverie that is unique among modern synthesizer music. Parts of side A steer away from the slow-moving pulse of other tracks, but this throbbing shimmers all the way through the entire release.
The artist has issued an interesting manifesto that is worth quoting in order to give some perspective behind my personal investment in Polyhedrons: “(Polyhedrons is) hypnotic, minimal, and trance-inducing drones intended for deep listening and meditation, relaxation or just background ambience. Complex, long-form synthesizer textures created as part of the composer’s own trancework practice.”
I found myself considering where the sound had moved overall in the composition; perhaps it was doing a series of oscillating circles around a theme. Notes from Gray’s Bandcamp page suggests otherwise. Apparently, he allowed his machine to evolve the tone on its own, without touching it for hours at a time. On an atmospheric level, Polyhedrons is essentially and entirely made up of soothing modulations for solitary nights. It gently guides the thoughts of its audience like the movements of branches in the night air—their own meditations, like our bodies, waving slowly in the wind.
The original hand-numbered edition of fifty tapes is now sold out from Gray’s own Kenoma Tapes imprint, but the digital version is still very much available here.