Listening to Polysomn is as enchanting as it is heartbreaking. It’s a whimsical trip but I am left melancholic as the album ends because I know I can’t exist in its world. Scandinavia can seem like an exotic place from this side of the world, and not just because it has the expansive arctic terrain of Lapland or because mysticism involving elves and sacred bears is an ever present part of a society, which is also bursting with modernity. I’m not even talking about the region’s laudable high quality of life, where arts are well-funded and teachers are compensated handsomely. However, that robust and egalitarian vitality is surely a byproduct of a deeply-rooted ideology that allows its populace to imagine extensively and wildly and to not fear such an ascent onto the astral plane, because should the ethereal sojourn end abruptly or without fruitful return, the material conditions that are inherently necessary to forging on—healthcare, education, sustenance—are promised to all, serving as a bulwark to nagging pragmatism. This is why, at least in this harsh moment, Finland’s Kairon; IRSE! is but a chimera to so many.
Kairon; IRSE! makes the kind of art that generally doesn’t exist in America, at least not organically or without societal pushback and parents whose faces sink as you declare that you’ve turned down the job offer at the office, the one that they pulled so many strings to land you, where you might one day get a corner office and stock options. The one with the grandiose holiday party where Bon Jovi and Sir Mix-A-Lot perform songs that everyone knows. You turn it all down because your calling is to create wildly esoteric, multilayered worlds.
Kairon; IRSE!’s Polysomn is a romp of psychedelic adventuring and as novel as a bag of ketchup-flavored potato chips from Canada or a hedgehog cafe. The record begins with clean dad-rock guitar riffs on “Psionic Static,” which are ripe for the innocent necessity of weekend yard-work. Soon, however, the earthly textures evaporate into galactic distortion, taking us from our yard work to snowy mountainous peaks and up to the cosmos. This will be the last time Polysomn allows us to experience our terrestrial reality.
“Welcome Blue Valkryie” is an enormous storm of shoegaze guitars and vocals that gorgeously drown beneath the fuzz. “Altaãr Descends” is haunting and beautiful and makes me opine the fact that I, like every other organism, am bound to biological and physical constraints and I have to go to work so that I can rent the place where I sleep and the food I need to sustain myself so I can sleep and go to work and repeat the cycle again and again. As the jam enters its fifth minute, I want to dissolve into a cascade of neon purples and pinks, I want to devour chlorophyll and radiate asteroids of seafoam. Juxtaposing the sonic tantrums, “Mir Inoi” is a mellow hum of jazz. The song is almost out of place insofar as it’s a rare moment of cogency but it’s a melodic haze that massages the intense kinks from our necks that have come from the headbanging and entranced head rolling.
In our current apocalyptic cultural moment there is, understandably, a sizable amount of didactic art and media urging society to diverge in one direction or another. While these instructions are valuable, what is also immensely important right now is escape. That is, we need permissive access to kaleidoscopic starways. What is so enticing about Polysomn is its unabashed weirdness. The album may not provide us with blueprints for utopia per se but Polysomn’s esoteric meandering through hallucinogenic rock and blurry jazz is just as virtuous. As Polysomn ends my sadness returns but at least my vision is mildly augmented by the record’s fairy tale aesthetic. Kairon; IRSE! will likely never attain those coveted stock options but with a little pagan divine intervention, they will be digested by the sky and spit out as a spectacular crest of stardust strewn across the galaxy.
If a meteor was just hours away, Paul Glanting would recall that he has been in a Lil Wayne music video and has a 4.7 (out of 5) on Rate My Professor. He is at work on his first novel, Adjunct Megafauna.