A More Perfect Union: On Mono/Poly’s Collaboration with Alyss

Ben Grenrock takes a look at the collaboration between Mono/Poly and Alyss.
By    August 9, 2017

Ben Grenrock debuted this piece at Low End Theory.

Mono/Poly earned his beat scene stripes dropping tracks that sound like the frenetic AI deep-dreams of a ballistic missile system. In the years since, he’s diversified his sonic palate: first with Golden Skies’ kush-padded ambience, then with Crypic’s uncharacteristically stripped down face-melters.

His latest EP, Union, is a joint effort with singer-songwriter Alyss and yet another distinct venture. At first glance, Alyss is an unlikely partner for Mono/Poly; her sensual voice—warm and smooth as the slope of an inner thigh—is a strange pairing for the producer’s metallic dystopias. But as his name suggests, Mono/Poly has a knack for the artful synthesis of elements that ought to be mutually exclusive.

On Union, Alyss’s presence doesn’t cull Mono/Poly’s explosiveness so much as channel it into human form. The beats are still equal parts IED and obsidian shard, but these are deployed in strategic quantities depending on the degree to which either artist drives a particular track.

Opener “Syrius B” is unquestionably Mono/Poly’s show—a synthetic blitzkrieg that Alyss terraforms hospitable, with bursts of melody and a hook that sounds like a Gergorian chant sung by a choir of Terminators. In contrast, her graceful vocals command both “Footprints” and “Choices,” imbuing breath and blood even as Mono/Poly laces them with a titanium edge.

Neither artist takes the lead in “Voyage On” and as a result it feels a bit forced. But on “Golden Light” and “Violet Ray” they achieve perfect balance. The former is a funk track for zero gravity foreplay; in the latter, the beat’s apical undulations stab at Alyss’s delivery, prompting explosions of nirvanic bliss.

Half oddity, half alchemy, Union is a cyborg skilled in both seduction and destruction, as adept at aligning chakras as rattling tooth fillings loose. Once sex-robot technology catches up to the breed of bioengineering Alyss and Mono/Poly have wrought, society as we know it will surely crumble. Whether that’s an exciting or terrifying prospect, only time will tell.