Review

Mono/Poly

Golden Skies

Brainfeeder • 2014

The kind of promise made by the title of this album is so rarely lived up to that when it actually happens, you’re baffled. In Mono/Poly’s music, the seemingly almost empty formula ‘Golden Skies’ flowers out with true visual power. It comes as no surprise that quite a few years had to pass until Charles Dickerson aka Mono/Poly got the album ready that Flying Lotus had ordered for his Brainfeeder imprint (with an EP preceding in 2011). It is the conclusion of a day experienced as magically perfect that he paints into our ear, with gold dust he pulled into his tracks straight from the evening sky over the L.A. sun on its way into the pacific. A day of bliss that appears so unreal that melancholy settles over it. A sky populated by wheeling arpeggios over shimmering glitter which, along with the occasional beat that has your feet over the quay wall dangle, betrays the hiphop producer, but one whose heart is filled with the sublime, bitter-sweet lightness of a Vangelis. Mendee Ichikawa contributes vocals, harp (by Rebekah Raff) isn’t missed, and on the last track, at the end of this arch marvellously gliding from ringing metal to velvety night blue, label colleague Thundercat (whose album Dickerson collaborated on) finally guides us down back to the ground with his soul. But it’s not just the guests that make sure that the well-rounded atmosphere of “Golden Skies” keeps up profile. It is the multitude of influences that blend in so harmoniously and discreetly that they’re allowed to come to surface at the other end as devious echoes: of the cascade-of-notes carousel from Philip Glass’ “Dances” (in “Light Age”), of Asmus Tietchens’ 80s pop (in “Euphoria”), of Gutevolk’s ballet school in the case of the piano in the title track (or, according to the press sheet, Bach, Thelonious Monk and Wu-Tang on E – just as well). Is that really the same Mono/Poly as the one who just five years ago outran the complete field on a compilation from Mary-Anne Hobbs on Planet Mu riding a futuristically jittering robo-ice crystal? And where has that one gone?