Polarizer – Lightscapes

written by: July 11, 2013
Album-art-for-Lightscapes-by-Polarizer Release Date:


Chicago’s own Polarizer has unleashed its debut recording, Lightscapes, an ambitious effort of guitar rock in a world of drum machines and MIDI keyboards. Standing at six songs and under 30 minutes, Lightscapes’ attempts to portray polar sonic landscapes falls short, but the work is a refreshing respite from most everything else in the blogosphere.

Singer Taylor Brennan, along with drummer Ben Ludwig and guitarist Ian Palmer, recruited bassist Stan Tencza for the project after initial recordings and conceptions came into fruition, all revolving around the idea of light and dark oppositions of sound and theme.

The album does not fulfill its promise of generating this dichotomy to an effective state; a more prevalent juxtaposition here is loud and soft (and all dark). Opening track “Wirewalker” is the only sonically “light” part of the album.

Despite its somewhat singular tone, Lightscapes does conjure some brilliant sections of musical clarity and rhythmic command.

The most impressive work comes from guitarist Ian Palmer, who shines through in the rhythmic breakdowns of “Portals” and “Monuments.” His driven, crunchy riffs play off the sonic tone that Polarizer is trying to achieve, and comes through quite effectively to bring the tastiest sections of the entire record.

In addition, singer Taylor Brennan brings an almost ethereal energy to Lightscapes. Tailored for post-rock and progressive rock, Brennan’s voice is powerful, yet able to jump behind its musical accompaniment when appropriate. Brennan brings a certain catchiness to tracks like “Back Down Brother” and “You & Your Tell.”

While still in its infancy as a group, Polarizer has shown with Lightscapes that there is much potential for growth and advancement. You can hear …And You Will Know us By the Trail of Dead-like expanses and even an aural determination akin to Baroness’ latest work. But without any palatable exploration of more diverse musical tones, Lightscapes serves as a plateau more than a launch pad for Polarizer.

There is no question though that this group can become a mainstay in the genre, and perhaps even make the jump into a more exposed light if it avoids stagnation.

In our current state of hyper-blogging, genre-jumping music landscapes, indie rock, hip hop, and dance reign supreme. There isn’t much love left for the sounds harvested by groups like Polarizer, with their prog/hard rock sensibilities.

Still, the group’s debut release is full of striking moments of musical mastery, and while Lightscapes isn’t completely effective in its foray through dichotomy, it can be appreciated as a satisfactory, even impressive product of the current state of guitar rock.

Disclaimer: Taylor Brennan is a freelance writer for Pop ‘stache. However, by assigning this review to the most recent writer to join our team, who was unaware of the connection, we hope to have eliminated any possibility of bias.

Polarizer – Lightscapes tracklist:

  1. “Wirewalker”
  2. “You & Your Tell”
  3. “Portals”
  4. “All The Lights Go Out At Once”
  5. “Back Down Brother”
  6. “Monuments”