Kelley Polar, a former musical prodigy, began playing violin at age three. The artist's first published symphonic-disco composition, entitled “Get In The Love Bubble,” was released a year later. As an adult, Polar masterfully melds a hybrid of classical and electronic sensibilities. Raised on music that ranged from Kraftwerk to Schubert, Polar found brief sanctuary while working towards an advanced degree from The Julliard School in New York. Recently expelled from that school due to a “riot” that allegedly broke out during his masters recital, Polar now resides in New Hampshire, where he composed and recorded his new album, Love Songs Of The Hanging Gardens. The vocals, although very different in tone, have a Bjork sense of timing that melds with the melody while also providing a unique edge that can, at times, be slightly jarring. Soothing vocals that are sung and whispered into your ear by a true falsetto provide a Prince-like quality to the recording as well. In fact, in many ways the album mimics a mild "Purple" ambiance, minus the blunt sexual innuendo. Gentle sections take the listener on an enjoyable ride through ambient tangents, guided by spacey synths and timid vocal melodies. Songs like “My Beauty in the Moon” open with a full a cappella intro, providing the song a slightly odd church quality that miraculously works when followed by minimalist beats and exuberant synth. The type of synth used stems not from the grimy 808, or the post-rave electro sound, but a retro, early '80s attempt at synthesizing real instruments. Think David Bowie meets New Edition in outer space. The use of hand claps is excellent and provides the music with a brilliant retro dance vibe. However, what’s more is that they are actually studio-recorded handclaps opposed to the synth claps recently brought back into the spectrum by groups like Chromeo. But the real genius comes with the abundance of strings used throughout the album. Violins afford the music some greater depth and a sense of real composition. This is music both for the dance floor and simply chilling in your pajamas before bed. I especially liked driving to this album and found the relaxing dance-inspired tracks great for calmly weaving through even the worst Chicago traffic.
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