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Polvo

One of the most popular and accomplished bands in the arty, noisy indie rock offshoot dubbed math rock, Polvo touched on many of the genre's hallmarks: dissonant, intricately layered guitars that often employed alternate tunings; odd, off-kilter rhythms; an emphasis on dense sonic texture; and unorthodox song structures that, nonetheless, were often unconventionally melodic. Additionally, their music had a pronounced Eastern feel that came not only from the Indian and Middle Eastern-style drones in their compositions, but actual Asian instruments as well. The combination helped set them apart from other post-Sonic Youth/Slint guitar experimentalists.

Polvo formed in 1990 in Chapel Hill, NC, a college town that housed one of the more fertile and eclectic indie scenes of the '90s. The band's lineup consisted of vocalists/guitarists Ash Bowie and Dave Brylawski, bassist Steve Popson, and drummer Eddie Watkins. Bowie and Brylawski met in a Spanish class at the University of North Carolina, and discovered a mutual admiration for both the SST roster and the progressive end of the classic rock spectrum. Although an erratic live presence at first, the band earned a strong local following and released the seven-song double-7" Can I Ride on Kitchen Puff in 1991. (The record was later reissued as Polvo.) They subsequently signed with the Chapel Hill-based indie label Merge -- run by Superchunk's Mac McCaughan, a high-school classmate of Brylawski and Popson -- and issued their debut album, Cor-Crane Secret, in 1992. Reviews were mostly favorable, and -- propelled by tours with Superchunk and Babes in Toyland -- the band garnered a devoted cult audience that remained fairly steady throughout its existence. Today's Active Lifestyles followed in 1993, refining the group's approach, and it was followed in turn by two EPs, 1994's Celebrate the New Dark Age and 1995's This Eclipse.

Polvo subsequently switched to the Chicago-based Touch & Go label, which was more associated with challenging, noisy guitar rock than Merge. Their debut for the label was 1996's double-length Exploded Drawing, an eclectic, progressive effort that began to delve more explicitly into the guitarists' fascination with Asian musics. Drummer Watkins left the band afterward and was replaced by Brian Walsby. The rest of the group was beginning to drift apart as well; Brylawski moved to New York City to play with Asian musicians (and also traveled to India), while Bowie started dating Helium frontwoman Mary Timony and relocated to Boston to play bass with her band. Polvo reconvened in 1997 to record Shapes, and rumors that it would be their final album proved true when they amicably disbanded later that year.

Bowie had been creating homemade four-track recordings of material that wasn't quite right for Polvo, and he eventually turned it into a solo project. Adopting the name Libraness, he debuted with Yesterday...and Tomorrow's Shells in 2000 on the Tiger Style label. Brylawski, meanwhile, joined the North Carolina-based, world-inflected trio Idyll Swords, which released two albums on Communion. Polvo ultimately reunited in 2008, however, ending a decade-long hiatus with a performance at the 2008 All Tomorrow's Parties festival. Following that show, the bandmates continued working together, and 2009 found them releasing their fifth studio album with In Prism. They followed their hiatus-breaking comeback album four years later with 2013's Siberia. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: In Prism

1. Right The Relation

2. D.C. Trails

3. Beggar's Bowl

4. City Birds

5. Lucia

6. Dream Residue/Work

7. The Pedlar

8. A Link In The Chain

x

Track List: Shapes

1. Enemy Insects

2. The Fighting Kites

3. Rock Post Rock

4. The Golden Ladder

5. Downtown Dedication

6. Pulchritude

7. Twenty White Tents

8. Everything In Flames

9. D.D. (S.R.)

10. El Rocio

11. Lantern

x

Track List: Exploded Drawing

1. Fast Canoe

2. Bridesmaid Blues

3. Feather Of Forgiveness

4. Passive Attack

5. Light Of The Moon

6. Crumbling Down

7. Street Knowledge

8. High-Wire Moves

9. Monolith

10. In This Life

11. The Secret's Secret

12. Snowstorm In Iowa

13. The Purple Bear

14. Taste Of Your Mind

15. Missing Receipts

16. When Will You Die For The Last Time In My Dreams

x

Track List: This Eclipse

1. Batradar

2. Bombs That Fall From Your Eyes

3. Titan Up

4. Production Values

5. Title Track

x

Track List: Celebrate The New Dark Ages

1. Fractured (Like Chandeliers)

2. City Spirit

3. Tragic Carpet Ride

4. Solitary Set

5. Every Holy Shroud

6. Old Lystra

7. Virtual Cold

x

Track List: Today's Active Lifestyles

1. Thermal Treasure

2. Lazy Comet

3. My Kimono

4. Sure Shot

5. Stinger (Five Wigs)

6. Tilebreaker

7. Shiska

8. Time Isn't On My Side

9. Action Vs. Vibe

10. Gemini Cusp

x

Track List: Cor-Crane Secret

1. Vibracobra

2. Kalgon

3. Bend Or Break

4. Can I Ride

5. Sense Of It

6. Ox Scapula

7. Channel Changer

8. In The Hand, In The Sieve

9. The Curtain Remembers

10. Well Is Deep

11. Duped

x

Track List: Heavy Detour B/W Anchoress

1. Heavy Detour

2. Anchoress

x

Track List: Siberia

1. Total Immersion

2. Blues Is Loss

3. Light, Raking

4. Changed

5. The Water Wheel

7. Some Songs

8. Anchoress

x

Track List: Siberia (Bonus Track Version)

1. Total Immersion

2. Blues Is Loss

3. Light, Raking

4. Changed

5. The Water Wheel

6. Old Maps

7. Some Songs

8. Anchoress

9. Sad Snow (Demo)

x

Track List: Total Immersion (Single)

1. Total Immersion

Comments

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Thank you. I love you.
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jeffryharris o n
So good...so underrated.. . s o sad
Report as inappropriate
Polvo is classic excellence!! !
Report as inappropriate
saw these guys in the late-mid 90s and then again in 2008 at maxwells, nj (rip) they sound like nobody else. such a fantastic band
Report as inappropriate
I like the unpolished noise, but this isn't math, as the bio states.
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tom.sajbel
I never did get to see this guys live. I'm hoping they tour a lot to promote their latest effort (In Prism), which is really good by the way.
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james159
These guys suck the polock kizock.
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Saw them in concert at The 40 Watt in Athens, GA.....AMAZI N G .
Report as inappropriate
The 60s? Are you f**king joking??
Report as inappropriate
ahhhhh - can i ride?
Report as inappropriate
Interesting throw back to the 60's. Not my cup of tea though. Thumbs down.
Report as inappropriate
These guys have made some of the most amazing guitar-based music you'd ever be fortunate enough to hear. They were shamefully underrated but are reformed and playing live again. Don't miss out this time around, fools.

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