I discovered Polio Sugar when they reached out to me on Reverb Nation several months ago.  They relocated to the Coachella Valley this past summer from some state that I believe begins with a W (forgive me, but I’m one of those people who can find New York and California on a US map - and that’s about it).

I truly believe that meeting Paul and Charis (the respective members of Polio Sugar) was an act of grace - or at least Jungian synchronicity.  Not only have I discovered two really intriguing people with whom I share all sorts of interests and ideals, I’ve also come face-to-face with some really wonderful music – songs filled with both melodic and atonal sounds, instrumental and electronic effects, layered repetitions and languid lyrical invocations that are never in a rush to get anywhere in particular… reminding me, at least in their cadence and willingness to ruminate, of some of the early 4AD bands such as Red House Painters and This Mortal Coil.   

Since first listening to belay, the duo’s debut EP, I’ve found myself enchanted, spellbound and mesmerized by their songs.   Now I choose these words very carefully to describe exactly what their music did and continues to do for me.  Their sound is dreamy and reflective, even mournful and meditative to such a degree that I find myself truly transported in much the same way a chant or a spell is meant to induce one into a trance, hypnotic or hypnagogic state.

I witnessed this effect upon others when watching Polio Sugar play live at Pappy and Harriet’s, a local desert haunt.  Those of us in the audience were so enthralled that it required tremendous effort to respond at the end of each song.  After their set, Paul and Charis were concerned that the meager applause they received indicated their music had not been appreciated.  I had to describe for them the semi-dream state they had induced and that, while their listeners had been drawn into the ethereal landscapes Polio Sugar’s music chronicles, they were also presented with something daunting and even frightening.  As with all works of truly artistic beauty their songs disturb as much as they delight.  While this is a quality that I find truly intriguing, it is also something most audiences are unaccustomed to experiencing in live performances.

I once read that when Richard Wagner began staging what have come to be considered some of the most beautiful operas ever composed, the audiences found his mythical reveries so unusual that they were often puzzled by what they heard until they learned how to listen. I am reminded of this when considering Polio Sugar and the Herculean task faced by any who strive to be truly innovative in their art.  While I may be a bit brazen in comparing this humble duo with one of histories greatest musical masters, I do so to illustrate the challenge this band and its audiences face while traveling through this unique and spectral world – a challenge that requires any listeners to give into Polio Sugar’s bewitching wiles and let the music work its lulling spell.

Polio Sugar can be found on Reverb Nation and MySpace

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