“That doesn’t even look real!” I cry as an 8-bit pterodactyl batters me off a precipice. I am suddenly falling through polygonal space, sure to meet my death where the map rendering ends, but am saved by a two-dimensional rope that somehow lassoes my three-dimensional form. The Urban Monk has come to the rescue.
“It may not look real, but if you die in the matrix, you die in real life.” Urban Monk and I are suspended in a virtual space imagined into being through the minds of Urban Monk and Camelot the Cameleon, the electrohop duo known as Polo Club. Tron meets Alex Kidd meets Dangerous Dave. I feel trapped in late-80s graphics. Listening to Polo Club’s debut album should give you the same feeling – that is, if you spent your childhood playing console games.
“I do a lot of 8-bit production. I love old school sound, old school games, anything old school. My girlfriend’s little brother brought me a sega megadrive the other day cos mine was busted and I’ve been paying Sonic 2 heaps.”
You can hear the early video game influences in the album, titled The 13, both in the lyrics – such as the first track, Turn That Console Off – and in the many vocal filters, which make me think Lawnmower Man and terrible 3D imaging. Don’t let the old school theme fool you into thinking this stuff is retro though. On the contrary, this album is some of the most refreshing Aussie hiphop around.
The tracks are funny and lyrical and sometimes unaffectedly fanciful; and are a slight departure from their live shows. The giant gorilla that is Polo Club’s live show throws burning barrel after burning barrel into the audience, making the crowd jump for their lives.
“Cam and I are spontaneous dudes so when we play live we don’t think about it too much aside from gettng our lights right. Other than that we just go a bit crazy and who knows whats going to happen. At a gig in south Gippsland we got a friend to dress up in a superhero outfit and go nuts on stage, people seemed to enjoy that. If I had a choice I’d definitely have a B-grade superhero for a bodyguard. Something like Ben Stiller’s character from Mystery Men with some pointless power, like he could open doors really fast or something. If I were a superhero my power would be being able to fly, obviously, also the abbility to sit down and do a remix with someone and not have to lift a finger, just controlling ProTools with my mind.”
Speaking of remixes, The 13 has a version of The Presets’ track ‘A New Sky’. “It’s a Presets remake more than a remix. Cam is a massive fan of The Presets. He’s always loved dance and electro stuff and I really like The Presets. When the album was being finished there were a few tracks on there we weren’t really feeling and we wanted to get rid of some old stuff and do some new stuff. We were going to do an old song but then we thought, no, we’ll do that track and send it off and see what we have to do to get it on the album. Everyone agreed and it ended up being easier than I thought.”
Sonic the Hedgehog rolls by in a blur of blue spines. In the distance we hear the chime of rings being collected and stowed in the hope of future lives. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 rolls past. Is it a reincarnation? A step up the spiritual ladder? Or just a flashier imitation?
“Producers in the US seem to do a lot of recycling of stuff. They find something that’s old and go with it for a while, make a bit of money on it, and keep churning it out. They just switch the artist instead of the sound. When Timberland was producing Justin Timberlake’s Future Sex/Love Sounds or whatever, the production on that was different at the time you know, no-one was doing it, but now he’s like everyone thought that was crazy so I’ll just keep doing it. He’s now done Nelly Furtado’s album and even Chris Cornell’s new album and that sounds like the Nelly album with Cornell singing. When we’re working on tracks we always try to make the next track different from the one before. Not to the point where we break our own sound mold, Polo Club definitely have their own sound, but we certainly try to be different within the album.”
The 13 is available now in shops and online through AmpHead Music/The Orchard.