Polysynthfusion is a complex mixture of sounds that provide structure and confusion. Although mainly a solo act, during live shows, the stage has swollen to include up to seven performers. The brainchild of Michael Randolph, PSF’s sounds are created from an eclectic mix of synthesizers, Theremins, and vintage musical devices, all of which are routed through various effects pedals to achieve the desired textures and sounds. PSF’s songs can be categorized into three distinct types: Abstract, Electric-Folk, and High Energy Jams. You can also catch Polysynthfusion while playing with the bands The Texas Weather and Bi_PolarBear
Article from Backbeat Magazine:
Man vs. Sound
Written by Bobby Ghost
In twenty years from now, when people look back and listen to music that the general public in 2011 considered “popular”, its hard to guess who will be more offended: The artists from the 80’s, whose work was blatantly ripped off, or the artists of the future, who will see the unlimited amounts of influences at our fingertips (via the internet) and wonder why we chose to make 80’s music…again.
Are musicians getting lazier? Are people less inspired? Have the marketing departments at record labels been so horribly downsized that the only decision-makers left are the ones who originally started the companies in the 80’s? Probably. Way down south in San Antonio, there is one man taking a stand against the uncreative, the mundane and the boring. This man is on the front lines of the war against musical-terror, and his weapon is called Polysynthfusion.
The man himself, Michael Randolph, is a curious specimen. A multiple-winner for Teacher of the Year, Randolph’s day job at Churchill High School has awarded him the opportunity to mold the minds of his young students, while simultaneously remaining in touch with the technological advancements that have left many of his generation behind. His influence as an educator can be found everywhere (past students include Neon Indian-front man Alan Palomo), and his photography resume features Lauren Hill (among countless others), so what drives him to perform as a musician?
“As a teacher, I spent a lot of time focusing on how my message would be received,” says Randolph, via FB chat (while working at a church retreat in Giddings, Tx). “Due to the abstract nature of the songs that I perform, and staying in tune to what the Abstract Expressionists wanted to do by removing the tangible aspects from their art so that the viewer participates in the art by imagining the meaning and purpose, I spend my time as a musician focusing on this same exact philosophy.” Fancy words, the kind you would expect from an educator trying to promote his own musical project. However, the question is do they match up with the Polysynth experience? For the answer, I wish I knew a more abstract phrase for the term “Sweet Jesus, yes”.
Randolph stands at the command center, an entire mixing board running operations for a setup that is “ridiculous”, but in a jaw dropping, gear-heads-pay-attention kind of way. From the command center runs THREE Theremins, more than fifteen different effect pedals at any time, two different microphones, analog drum machines, and synthesizers all buzzing along at once. Polysynth Fusion is backed by not one, but TWO different bands. The first is a funky rag-tag collective that involves a live DJ, multiple keyboardists, people in wigs, and a revolving door of local musicians playing bass and drums. The second backing band is the metalcore group Bi_Polar Bear. Wires and cables are plugged in every which way. There’s even a Tibetan Bowl, which is run through an effects pedal. Please, believe me when I say these are not exaggerated statements. Something this crazy actually exists.
The only piece of this puzzle that makes sense is Randolph’s mind. Drawing inspiration from artists like Jackson Pollock, Randolph came to terms with his inability to write songs based on musical theory. Instead, the entire focus of Polysynthfusion has been to literally create audible landscapes, as if he were painting a picture with sound. When you hear a ten-minute song called “911”, in which three different Theremins are used to describe a time when Randolph was hospitalized due to a back injury, you start to wonder just how far down the rabbit hole this man has been before. However, as a husband, father, award-winning educator, and incredibly impressive photojournalist, Randolph is simply grasping what so many younger artists are incapable of, being creative, no matter how unlikely it is the music will be played on Jersey Shore.
Says Randolph, “Creating and performing this art is inspiring for sure. It is like I found a whole new language tailored jus for me, allowing me to speak clearly for the first time.”