Stephen James Buckley, aka Polypores, follows up 2020’s Terrain album with a second set of intricate and otherworldly synthesiser compositions for Frequency Domain.
Partially inspired by the artwork he had in mind for the release – a vast mushroom cloud of manmade structures and protruding foliage by the artist sØlar – Stephen set out to create something that sounded both huge and overwhelming. Many of the tracks feature significant use and abuse of an Eventide harmonizer; most commonly used on dry, monophonic sounds like leads or vocals, he found himself running all sorts of sounds through it, from reverb drenched chords to multiple elements of the same track, often with the harmonizer struggling to keep pace.
The result is Gargantuan – a relentless stream of intense studio explorations, presented to the listener as two dazzlingly colourful long-form pieces. “To me it’s an album where something is going on the whole time,” says Stephen. “It doesn’t give you chance to think. I guess it sort of reflects the emotional response to life in 2021. Social media in particular can leave me feeling a bit frazzled. The album reflects that constant bombardment of information.”
I’m Stephen James Buckley. I write and perform with a modular synthesizer, under the name Polypores. You can buy or listen to my music at polypores.bandcamp.com
Where did you come from and where are you going?
I come from the interiors of collapsing stars, via 4 billions years of biological evolution. I’m going into the ground, where I will eventually be reincarnated as fungus.
What preoccupies your mind these days?
I’ve recently cleared out my back yard, built some planters, and planted some plants. I’ve also put out some bird feeders, and as a result, am getting visits from some birds. Currently I’ve got a magpie and a few bluetits who visit several times daily. I find them fascinating to watch. I have a bit of rapport with the magpie. I feel like we have a connection. An understanding.
I’m hoping for more visitors once the plants attract more insects, and word gets around the bird networks that this is a good place to eat. It’s almost become like a game, where I’m trying different foods, building different structures in order to attract more species. But then I also have to make sure I maintain those I already have. One of my neighbours gets regular visits from starlings, which I’m very jealous of.
Name a favourite taste, touch, sound, sight and smell.
Taste – Fried Halloumi Touch – Moss Sound – Dawn Chorus Sight – Fractals Smell – New books
Describe one of your most vivid dreams or nightmares
There’s a particular place I often visit in dreams. There’s a park with a huge slide and swings. It’s very near a motorway. Here’s what bothers me though: When a person goes to the same place in multiple dreams, is that actually the case? Or does the sense of familiarity/deja-vu come WITHIN the dream? So the dream gives you that feeling, and you wake up convinced that you’ve dreamed about the same place again, whereas it was actually somewhere totally different, the dream just generated the feeling of a familiar environment. I suppose there’s no way of knowing.
Have you ever had an uncanny experience?
No, but not for want of trying. I guess the UFOs just aren’t that interested in me.
How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?
I think I’m most creative when I’m relaxed and in a familiar environment. A couple of years ago I spend a few days in a cabin in the countryside, with the idea of going to this really remote and beautiful place to make some music. I lugged all my equipment there, and basically came up with nothing, because I wasn’t properly relaxed. I’m a very anxious person, and I need home comforts and familiarity to get creative.
What has particularly touched or inspired you recently?
Aside from my budding friendship with the magpie, I’ve also been inspired by the idea of meme theory, the scientific reasoning behind the seemingly trivial images that propagate and mutate on The Internet. I’ve found that juxtaposition between supposed “low” culture and “high” culture quite an interesting and inspiring dynamic.
I was recently moved by the experience of receiving my Covid vaccination. It was so well organized. I received both injections within one month. I felt immense gratitude for the people involved in making this happen, and felt a rare sense of kinship with those around me, despite them being masked strangers.
Tell us a good joke, story or anecdote.
Call it a hunch, but I think I’ve got chronic curvature of the upper spine.