Review: La Petit Mort, POLYFUSE

Review by Jonathan Adams Leonard, 121012

The Chicago based artist Justin McGrath, as Polyfuse, has released a new album this October, La Petit Mort.  Previous releases have traveled down the darker alleys of electronic music taking one into a maze of sizzling grooves and head banging saturated mixes.  The Polyfuse aesthetic, as the name might imply, is one that is charged with current that is trying to escape, crawling across surfaces, arcing, crackling and dangerously building up potential while seeking ground.

In the words of the artist, La Petit Mort has been in development since 2006 and might be itself, polarizing in effect.  Understood to contain an understated yet still provocative mood, listeners can be assured to have a moving experience.

This new release is a departure from the more pulsating themes of the chicago underground.  This kind of album is not without companions in style that eschew a consistent beat, groove or pulse.  Recent releases from Brian Transeau and Amon Tobin tackle the format of electronic music and widen horizons for new sensations and vistas from the cosmic to the microscopic.  Within the abstract and artful La Petit Mort, percussion and beats appear at the right moments but do not dominate.  Like others who are so skilled in design, Justin has created a palette of sounds that sit perfectly in their spaces like framed figures or pieces within an antique diorama.  There is patience and subtlety in the crafting of textures that goes where most Trons can’t.

The aesthetic of Polyfuse in La Petit Mort is still ominously intact, but the development of its’ 14 enigmatic tracks are longer and evolve over arcs that are more dramatic than electric.  There is a successful mix of acoustic and electronic instruments.  Haunting piano, chilling voices and desperate atmospheres evoke a perspective of tremendous isolation as one might look out over a world devastated and evacuated of life.  There is a feeling of death here that is not like a place still bleeding and pink.  It is a world gone grey and eternally drowning in shadow.  The shape and form of the landscapes are present and memorable of a familiar past.  But through La Petit Mort the awareness slowly grows that the world in fact has not been destroyed, but we are, in listening, a ghost now ever apart and transparently ephemeral.  The mortality and diminution we are shown, is our own.

Timed perfectly before All Hallows’ Eve, La Petit Mort is available for preview and purchase at Bandcamp via the link below in mp3 or flac formats.  The album is accompanied with artwork and video that resonate perfectly with the material.

Released 11 October 2012

Bridget Driessen – Physical Artwork, Photography
Jesse Meyer – Photography, Video
Corey Mixter – Video
Justin McGrath – Everything Else
Thanks: Brenton Ryan Nichol, Joe Burke




Danger v1.1 is now available for SY66 and Native Instruments Kontakt. Visit the link above for more info and to download.

v1.1 Replaces many stereo samples with mono samples where channels were identical which included all the drums and some fx. Also, the looping in the Spirahex samples was improved.


Welcome to Weirding Module, a new site devoted to sound making tools and musical instruments.  The first tool released here is called SY66 which is a Frequency Modulation (FM) synthesizer for Native Instruments Reaktor.