Polaroid is a fascinatingly dualistic epitome by Florida-based synthesist Eureka, available to purchase and fully streamable at Bandcamp where it is included in a 17-track anthology of the artist. Comprising of two long-form tracks, it is one of those releases that could have been created with a C20 tape release in mind, as both tracks reside among the fifteen-minute range. However, no cassette is planned at the moment, and whether the artist would really give in can be doubted. The reason is given away by Eureka himself who states that “this isn’t a fully formed artistic thing,” and with an explanation like this, I could leave it that and move on. Or rather not. Turns out that the truth of the above statement is not as pessimistic or indifferent as it may seem. The artist simply refers to the allure of contingency: the two tracks are recorded in one take, with no post-processing, afterthoughts or related tweaks being injected into the ambience. There are certain moments where one notices the aspect of playing live, true, but then again, there are formations where these dynamics work really well and merge flawlessly with the initially planned stages. Like the eponymous photograph and brand, Polaroid is a technicolor heirloom with jagged edges and scything scratches. The synth-fueled ambience is hazy, voices from the past reach into this mélange while recurrent echoey patterns build up, but the greatest achievement could well be the admixed rhythm structures and textures which add oppressive dynamics and contrapuntal thoughts to the schemes. Here is a closer inspection of the two long-form pieces.


What Is God To You? is the – more or less – pressing question Eureka has in store for the listener, and granted, there are many ways of how to approach a gigantomachy-annihilating (or -approving?) essentialism like this. The Florida-based producer chooses an interesting approach in this regard by not letting this first track launch with a soft fade-in phase of several seconds. Instead, there is silence. Quasi-silence. Only soft vinyl crackles gyre around the hazy universe. The stage is set for an esoteric granuloma of synth-infused truths and ploys, but no, the long-form piece first opens the curtain for a heavily reverberated public service announcement of the 50’s or 60’s (if not, it is still declaimed in that manly prosodic way) before an equally hazy choir offers the first – and possibly only – link to the titular topic by unchaining globs of ecclesiasticism whose aureoles are then chopped, sliced and repeated ad infinitum, or to be more precise: for minutes, several minutes even, until the song is over. This Big Beat artifact of sampling notwithstanding, What Is God To You? alters its diaphanous physiognomy from this point onwards. Soft hi-hats, metallic clangs and ashen sweeps add industrial counterpoints to the divine maelstrom and absorb the majesty of the choir in order to regain energy, growing feistier as the minutes run by. Whether the presented performance on the classic drum kit is sampled or not, it nonetheless showcases a jazzy approach and adds both a blotchy fluxion and mellow tension to the oneiric diorama. Shortly before the tenth minute, rectilineal bass rivulets interpolate the thermal heat before the drum line becomes a maddening cannelure of callisthenic oomph. The song ends with the chopped choir sample fully intact, now reunited with the vinyl crackles. An aural theophany.


What could be more divine than, well, divinity itself? Sleep, of course. The second title is thus consequentially called Sleep and showcases a similarly polyhedric ctenidium of chromaticity, although the sound waves resemble horticultural haze in lieu of churchly vocals. Besides, Eureka’s Sleep is not languorous, let alone relaxing, but superimposes a deeply clandestine uneasiness. The nebulous synth cloudlets swirl in fir green color ranges and inherit a pristine pith of purity; the adjacent samples of a ubiquitously perceptible DJ or portrayal thereof, however, encourages the hell out of the drowsy sleeper by whooping and cheering in a staccato kind of way. It is only after four minutes that Sleep morphs into its primordial and superior appearance. It is then coated in wondrously effulgent superfluids whose partially withdrawn and highly contemplative aura let it reside closer to Detroit than any other point of the map. Urban, foggy, heterodyned and multiplexing the warmth of analogue adjuvants, this echopraxia finds its perfection in the accompanying 4/4 beat, a softly simmering undercurrent whose sumptuous balminess adds much to the increasingly dreamlike state. More benign than aggressive, the beat is neither staggering nor bone-crushing. After approximately eight and a half minutes, its orderly cardiac rhythm is disturbed and forces the beat to wane. The last phase of Sleep therefore comprises of mostly beatless synth faucets of the helicoidal and wonkily droning kind before the beat returns in a more luxuriant way. The seraphic synthetics tumble and fluctuate until all euphonious elements come to a halt, with the song sporting anything but a wobbling, saltatory beat. This histrionic conclusion left aside, Sleep remains enigmatic, captivating, even admonitory.


Polaroid is a clever and apt name for the two soundscapes that make up its existence. Like the bleached, calcined bog-standard artifact in one’s hands, the soundscapes are torn by echoes from the past, diffuse anecdotes, mysterious announcements and superstructures of semi-elation. Both tracks are open to scrutiny, and they better when they pose questions such as What Is God To You? or address commonplace needs such as Sleep. Rhythmic patterns are the counterpoints to the fuzzy ambience, and Eureka makes sure that their impetus remains known to the listener as an omnipresent force of portent. What Is God To You? unleashes a free-form improvisation on the drum kit which is an audacity in the illustrated sanctuary full of festive choirs. Likewise, Sleep is keen on adding a rhythmic beat pattern to the moony atmosphere that first works in tandem with the Detroit synth structures, but suddenly goes awry and leads a life of its own. Dark green like the color of the front artwork, Sleep is a terrific track. What Is God To You? is no less exciting, but probably a tad too gimmicky given that the choral performance is then sampled and played to death. Mind you, this is only one possible opinion. I myself am attracted by the concept and the consequential realization of it. The chopped choir remains a golden-shimmering force throughout the runtime of 15+ minutes and won’t ever stop existing within these endemic boundaries, making this formerly gimmicky approach a straightforward, albeit not necessarily objectively tasteful endeavor. Given that Polaroid is played live without any post-processing, the results are all in all stunningly streamlined, and this is meant as a compliment! Sure, the beat in Sleep schleps itself to the exit only to then turn around and go wild on the innocent soul, but who knows, this might have been intended. And even if it is not: it can be interpreted as being intended. Interpretations can only go so far, but Polaroid remains a remarkable work due to its – possibly alatoric – aesthetics.


Further listening and reading:

  • You can fully stream and fetch Polaroid at Bandcamp
  • Eureka’s Twitter account is @gearnuscity.


Ambient Review 333: Eureka – Polaroid (2014). Originally published on Apr. 16, 2014 at