Sunday 10th September
The Bedford, Balham, London
Poly-Math, the Progressive Rock and Math Rock ensemble hailing from the United Kingdom, is a testament to the heights of technical musicianship and their unwavering commitment to forging an innovative path in the realm of instrumental music. As part of the “A Sunday in September” Prog festival at The Bedford, Balham, even within this expansive genre, they captured the hearts and minds of the audience seeking a musical journey beyond the ordinary.
Taking to the stage of this intimate venue, they opened with ‘Zenith’. Straight out of the gate, their explosive start, with a more modern approach to their sound, took the audience by surprise. Little did they know how expansive the sonic journey they were to encounter would be, as the band would play through their most recent album, the 2022 release ‘Zenith’. ‘Velociter’ came next, followed by ‘Charger’.
At the heart of Poly-Math's sonic tapestry lies their astounding technical prowess. The band's members are virtuosos in their own right, and their command over their respective instruments is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Drummer Chris Woollison, guitarist Tim Walters, and bassist Joe Branton, Josh Gesner on keys and Chris Olsen on saxophone, form a tightly knit musical quintet, effortlessly navigating through complex time signatures, syncopated rhythms and intricate melodies. It's a musical ballet of precision, where every note and beat is meticulously crafted.
However, what truly sets Poly-Math apart is their innovative approach to instrumental music. They have a penchant for pushing boundaries and transcending genre limitations. In their compositions, one can hear the echoes of Post-Rock's grandeur, the mathematical precision of Progressive Rock, and the raw energy of Math Rock, all seamlessly woven together. This fusion results in a sonic landscape that is as emotionally evocative as it is technically impressive.
‘Canticum II’ was a showcase of Chris Olsen and Tim Walters ability to combine their sounds together, something the band would do several times over the set, even to the point of shadowing solo’s. A saxophone through effects pedals never sounded so good. ‘Canticum I’ followed, completing this symphony, then ‘Proavus’ brought us out the mid-section of the show.
One standout element of Poly-Math's live performances is the charismatic and high-energy approach of their bassist, Joe. He is not just content with being the rhythmic backbone of the band; he's a showman in his own right. His basslines throb with energy, and his stage presence is nothing short of electrifying. His propensity for energetically dancing while playing, an unconventional sight in the world of instrumental music, adds an extra layer of excitement to their shows. Bouncing around between Josh and Tim, it’s a true expression of passion on stage which whilst shocking at first, you can’t help but be caught up in.
‘Mora’ started with a much more toned down and mellow opening, Chris Woollison pacing the rhythm, and Josh Grener proving the melodic tone. Eerily fading saxophone came in and out the track, with some beautiful lead that almost told a story through the track. Sadly, this was to be Chris Olsen’s last show with Poly-Math as the band head out to Europe for the latter half of 2023. The final track of the album, ‘Metam’, then played, with the band closing on earlier track, ‘Alchemy Terra Incognita’, from their breakout album, ‘House of Wisdom/We Are The Devil’.
In a musical landscape that often prioritises vocal-centric compositions, Poly-Math is a refreshing anomaly. They've carved a niche for themselves with their instrumental prowess and an unwavering commitment to innovation. Whether you're a music connoisseur seeking technical brilliance or someone in search of a sonic adventure, Poly-Math is a band that should be on your radar. Their dedication to pushing the boundaries of instrumental music, combined with their technical excellence, ensures that they remain a captivating and essential force in the world of Progressive and Math Rock.