I was very, very cautious about this haujobb release, wondering where myer would take the band this time. he mentioned the band's "new direction" after their live show a few months ago, and I could swear the word "rock" was mentioned. at the time I dismissed it as an alcohol-induced hallucination, but later it made more and more sense. after all there was a guitarist during the live show, and every single genre myer was interested in was already taken by his side projects (from cleaner to hmb). so at last I was not sure wat to think at all and since I was moving more and more from ebm as a genre, I was pretty much ready to dismiss this album completely.
but "polaris" (a play on "solaris" by cleaner?) turned out to be something completely unexpected. in short it could be described as somewhat of a cross of melancholic electro of cleaner and drum&bass motives of myer's other projects. it is interesting how upon the first listen it is perceived as ebm, and only later you realize that although it does indeed have a spirit of cleaner and maybe even older haujobb ("solutions…"), but at the same time percussion elements used are a bizarre cross of drum&bass and technoid electro. and only the strings and key progressions will bring back the sound spirit of "solutions for a small planet".
when I started digging deeper, I realized that haujobb took minimalism of "less" and went ahead with it. the sound for the most part is still minimal, but it became more aggressive (very edgy yet very straightforward rhythm of "demon"). firm, straightforward drum&bass never really strays from few loops established at the beginning of the song (so forget any architect aspirations you had), but every once in a while it stops and breaks for a few moments catching you off-guard. at the same time the vocals and deep gorgeous strings (never cheesy, always done with style "solutions…" was famous for) build on top of drum&bass motives. every once in a while more atonal elements join in, taking the sound even more into the world of edgy technoid sounds ("sinus problem").
no matter how far it goes into the world of techno, it always manages to keep a spirit that I liked so much in cleaner and early haujobb (the same spirit that might turn off those that moved away from ebm lately and dismissed this album after a few songs without listening to it too closely). on couple of tracks myer seems to play with the listeners almost completely reconstructing the sound of "solutions…", and when you almost recognize the track ("subsonic") you are listening to, you suddenly realize that you have been tricked and underneath the layers of familiar layered sci-fi synthlines lies minimal drum&bass structure. speaking of similarities to earlier material, "subsonic" cmes the closest to it. it is probably the best adaptation of earlier haujobb.
and "adaptation" is the word that goes throughout the whole album. while I cannot resist the charm of "polaris", I almost constantly catch myself recognizing elements of earlier haujobb *adapted* to use modern technoid motives. I guess this is a cold rational critic in me that points that out, because once I get past that similarity I start finding this blend of minimalism and amazing reconstruction of best haujobb elements simply fascinating.
vocals is one more element on this album tat needs mentioning. for the most part it is untreated clean voice similar to last cleaner albums. at first it does seem very unfitting and distracting from the music. only after I made an effort and got past it I was fully able to enjoy the album. and while this additional step is a very unfortunate barrier for any casual listener, at the same time I quickly realized that it adds a very peculiar and necessary melancholic element to the music, that otherwise would have been completely different. a few times vocal processing was been used, but even though the result is "smoother" sound, I did miss more distinct atmosphere of other tracks.
upon a first listen you can label this album as a cross between latest cleaner and old haujobb (of course it is inevitable to start questioning whether myer decided to cash in on the success of most popular haujobb album, or it is an honest attempt to create a new sound), but soon you realize that it is something completely different, and similarities are simply the elements borrowed from those project. as a result "polaris" stands on its own, and is definitely a very strong album that has a direction and distinct sound, something that "less" and "solaris" might have missed. I wonder how many fans in other genres this album would find, it realy would be a mistake to push it as old-fashioned industrial album.