The style of simultaneously combining a number of parts, each forming an individual melody and harmonizing with each other.
So reads Google’s definition of the title of Liverpool band Gulf’s new E.P., as good a description of their tie-dye meshing of soul, psychedelia and languid pop as any. Represented visually by a procession of highly saturated, woah-man tessellations, Gulf are, to some extent, a throwback: a psychedelic ragbag of disparate musical styles brushed up nicely and sluiced in shimmering, reverberant production.
“Polyphony” opens with the textured pastel funk of “All Too Much”, which almost lives up to its name in the dense push and pull of guitar, bass and vocals, not helped by the spacey maximalism of the production. However, the band pull it off with a clean, Anderson .Paak-esque jazziness. The band’s choppy, trebley guitar lines are obviously influenced by Chic, most clearly on the clipped, funky “Fantasy”. However, there are disparate sounds pulling beneath the surface: the sleepy Kevin Parker inflections of Mark Jones’ deep-sea vocals, the glint of Johnny Marr’s bright, interlocking chords in sparkling highlight “Start With Her”, maybe hints of the soulful unpopular pop of Blood Orange or the colourful gossamer of Talk Talk.
Closer “All Too Much. Slow” sprawls out the E.P.’s opening track into a hypnotic mantra of punchy bass and swirling keyboards that sounds like the Bee Gees questing across the desert. However, it’s a rare moment of thoughtfulness and restraint on an E.P. that does occasionally tend to swamp the listener in a kaleidoscopic musical fug. The cover of “Polyphony” perhaps sums it up best: the overlapping technicolour swirl of red and blue above this review. If this image appeals to you in its density, then Gulf are for you. If not, then “Polyphony” is simply excessive. CO