Earlier in the year we had the angry acid album Polybius 1 from Matthew R Ashcroft. He’s finally made a return with the new album Polybius 2. This new one keeps the acid focus but has a more thoughtful stance.
I thought we ought to catch up with Matthew and find out about where he’s at and where he’s from.
1. So, what you been up to in the six months since Polybius 1?
Besides the sequel album (although a lot of it existed before the first album to honest) I’ve started a music tech course which is really helping me understand a lot more about the way the things I use work. I’ve also been doing remixing lots of songs I’m a fan of to keep me feeling creative. It’s been a lot more relaxed than the Polybius 1 sessions I did last year too!
2. You’re from St Helens, Lancs. I only know of it from its Rugby team. What’s it like as a place to live?
It’s a bit of a mix. We have 3 McDonalds restaurants all very close to one another which is quite confusing, and we also have a lot of poundshops for some reason. We do have a lot of tech shops though, which comes in handy because I’m constantly buying new headphone leads, and we have a small record shop called Kaleidoscope Records where I buy a lot of records from. We have a rising music scene, but I’m not part of it really because I’m doing acid house and it’s more rock-focused. I’m not terribly fussed about that though. Having lived here all my life I’m relatively used to the place, so I’m able to see past any problems and just focus on the decent stuff. The rugby is a big part of the town, lots of celebrating when we won a few weeks back. We had a statue called the Dream, but people don’t seem to care much about it now which is a bit of a shame. One complaint I read said it looked like a giant phallus on a hill which is depressing and hilarious in equal measure.
Photograph taken by Christian Keenan.
Quite conveniently, I live near the linkway so getting to Liverpool or Manchester is only half an hour. That said, Liverpool is only really useful to me now if I’m nipping to Dawson’s, so I tend to stay local. So yeah, I’m happy with where I live.
3. The first album was full of angry acid. This album has pianos and acid. You’ve not turned into a 90s cheesy quaver have you?
Well I was always fond of quavers🙂 there were meant to be a few songs with pianos on the last album but it ended up quite dark so I never put them on. Since the first album I’ve listened to a lot more of the house side of acid and the influence shows on this one. ‘Da NYK’ in particular was my attempt to make a song which sounded more upbeat and dancey, while I took a lot of songs which I felt would have worked well on the last album like ‘High Acids’ and released them on here. The album does certainly have some darker moments though, particularly towards the end with ‘Mothbeetz’ or even the middle of ‘Bloodhound’. The brighter outlook is probably down to me feeling a lot better than I did making Polybius 1.
4. What’s next for your music?
I’ve been trying out some new ideas from time to time through my computer. However, I’m very interested in expanding my work with synths and I’m considering a more experimental album in the vein of Autechre, who I think are bloody fantastic. On the other hand I’ve been making a lot of ambient music to help me sleep and work lately, although they’re pretty rushed and the idea to release music that puts people to sleep probably isn’t a great one.
5. Give us a recipe.
grab some tomatoes, peppers, purée, throw them on a stove for a bit. While that’s on get some chicken done (chicken breast fillets is what I use) and some rice too (plain, although I haven’t tried it with anything else so who knows.)
Once it’s done throw it on a plate and it should taste alright. Relatively basic but I’m only really good at making breakfast so it’s the best I could find without getting boring.
As I said, Polybius 2 is still acid techno but mostly avoids the harsh angry intensity of the first album. High Acids starts with harsh distortion but that doesn’t remain as the focus of the track which takes a 303 line off into the high plains. Stip Stouse goes for a minimal acid aesthetic, focused back in the early 90s. Ormskirk is an album highlight. Some sounds of the mistral surround the early beats before an acid line snakes into view.
Da NYK is a bit 90s Nervous Records, complete with a bit of the house piano that Matthew talks about in his interview. A smile inducing, charming track. Bloodhound slightly drops the quality with a track that has a backing looking for a lead. Pssdoffour gets things back on track with another highlight. Acid techno gets blended with a treated tin bell sound to leave something which justifies the Autechre reference in the interview. This is followed by the equally good Ax Tachno which we had a few weeks ago. A confident track that manages acid and melody in equal measure. An adrenalin rush for a lost mid-90s club.
Orban Cut II sounds like an offcut from Orbital’s Brown album. Mothbeetz in An I-Kearrd goes back to Stip Stouse’s minimal acid aesthetic. Closer, Metro Beauty, offers a foretaste of what a Matthew R Ashcroft ambient techno album might sound like. This is still acid but one which is stopping to enjoy the ride, rather than being driven along. The demons still lurk, just a lot further into the background.
Anyone who likes dance music needs some properly acid sounds. This album should fill that gap in your life.