For much of its 17-year existence, Milieu has been an outlet for hypnotic analog ambiance. Under his recording pseudonym, Columbia’s Brian Grainger, who also releases music as Coppice Halifax and under his given name, has most often conjured wisps of calming distortion with little rhythmic interference, a hometown alternative for fans of sedate mood manipulators like Kyle Bobby Dunn.
Given this pedigree, Polypsilon, Part 1 is a refreshing change of pace. The first of two hour-long cassettes released via Grainger’s own Recycled Plastics, it expands his reach into minimal techno grime with consistently thrilling results.
While the first five parts of the titular suite hitch strung-out sci-fi synths to skittering drum machines with trance-inducing results, it’s the album’s gritter corners that really impress.
“P-Q” balances bracingly distorted vocal samples with a thumping analog beat and delicate but disturbing noise; Odd Future would do well to sample it.
“Polypse” smooths its driving space-funk groove with waves of immersive keyboard texture, maintaining Milieu’s graceful voice while injecting some sensual vigor.
Already the architect of an underrated local label, as well as one of the South’s most consistent ambient artists, the first half of Polypsilon proves that Grainger’s talents are even more dynamic. Here’s hoping the second half pushes even further. — Jordan Lawrence
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