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"Live In D.C."

July 31, 2003; Page T8
Who: Poleposition

When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Now! Music and Fashion, Alexandria

T he art-rock duo Poleposition performs songs of fate and tragedy, love and loss, drawing comparison to the material of Velvet Underground, Portishead and Roxy Music. You can find your own analogies -- and see how the pair's carefully layered recordings translate live -- when Poleposition makes its Washington area debut in a matinee performance at Now! Music and Fashion on Saturday.

Alexandria's hip indie retail outlet has hosted the likes of Trans Am, Will Oldham and the Magnetic Fields. Calling from New York, singer-keyboardist Daniel DaSilva considers playing somewhere previously graced by the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt -- "one of the songwriters I most admire" -- an offer he couldn't refuse. Besides, he said, "It's more interesting to play in an arts space than in a regular club." Along with Rui Guerreiro, who handles drums, percussion and electronics, DaSilva likes the idea of hanging in the store for a couple of hours. "We might actually do more than one set." And, recently, the duo has become a trio, with Ron Pastore on bass.

A sunny summer afternoon might seem an odd time to experience Poleposition's electro-rock noir. The pair's most recent EP, "XO," is practically a concept mini-album that tracks a narrative about cruising unforgiving cityscapes, dealing with lost love and death and looking for escape.

Though lyrically dark, there's still something ultimately soothing about the material, which DaSilva credits to the Portuguese mind-set. The band has even performed wrapped in black shawls, an allusion to their native fado music, in which somberly attired women sing mournful love songs of husbands far away at sea.

"Portugal is a very tiny country on the edge of the Europe. It's a lonely country," DaSilva explained. "It faces the ocean, stares out to sea. That's always stuck with me. It's the sentiment to live in the mood, giving up the need for a destination," he said.

In addition to "XO," Poleposition has released two independent CD singles, plus a compilation of material recorded for short films by artist and friend Thomas Torres-Cordova. And there should be some new music coming soon.

"This is the last hurrah for it," DaSilva said of the EP. "Live, we do four or five new pieces, and we're dying to record some new music." The Now! show will be the last of Poleposition's current tour. "We'll be taking time off to write and record and then come back in winter or spring with new music," DaSilva said.

You can find out more about the group, and sample much of their material, at www.PolePositionOnline.com.

-- Marianne Meyer
- Washington Post

"Poleposition take timeless elements and push them further"

splendid > reviews > 5/2/2002

Can something be both grandiose and humble? Unique and familiar? X and Y? Evading the ever-elusive quandary of Kierkegaard's "Either/or," Pole Position refuses to be one or the other. Defying both X and Y, they have crafted a fine album that is both grandiose and humble, unique and eerily familiar, x and y. As convoluted as all of that jargon sounds, it makes one thing evident: what the hell is Pole Position? For starters, they're nothing like the beloved Atari game. Their music does not contain the revving of stock cars, and neither does it sound like blipped-out video game music. Rather, XO is an album of tightly woven melodies, pianos, deft singing and industrial noises that are bound together and then ripped apart. Climb in as we take Pole Position for a spin.

"Boulevard" opens with Pulp-like sinister-ism (think This Is Hardcore): whispering voices, strong piano melodies and grumbling bass lines grow throughout the song's hazy mood. "The Nerve" takes off racing with tight and rapid drumming; the low piano ushers in the quick lyrics, and Daniel Dasilva's murky voice quickly permeates the song. In a Madonna-inspired moment, Dasilva's breathy voice retreats into a whisper as he says "There's no shame in sex." Rather than making the line seem trite or silly, Dasilva's delivery pulls it off with ease, adding to the song's already smoky sensuality.

"Time Travelz" is a sparkly song with a stirring opening drum solo; with grandiose yet modest instrumentation, the tracks showcases Dasilva's cantable (or connected and smooth) singing. Pole Position takes timeless elements, such as classic piano playing and intricate drumming, and pushes them one step further by adding humble keyboards and incredibly emotive vocals. "Tear My Muscle" is much in the same vein, but adds even more rich tones to the mix. Quick beats balanced with smooth singing prove to be a winning combination here.

Pole Position is ready to take off, and they're going to take you along for the ride. As you're twisting and turning your way through XO's course, you'll marvel at the beautifully orchestrated, sensually satisfying music. By the time you reach the finish line, you'll agree: Pole Position is sure to be a winner.

-- Melissa Morris
- Splendid Music Magazine

"Strikingly Beautiful"

Strikingly beautiful, wonderfully fulfilled between past and future, XO is a near-perfect EP. Having been re-mastered and edited from its first format, the result of the airbrushing leaves something intensely vital and refreshing.

Keyboards, drums, and synthesizers are all in place for what might normally be new wave by numbers, at least in the scene of today. Poleposition, however, has a sense of style, literacy, and honor. They are not content to be just another band, they want the full acclaim, and they deserve it.

Taking as much from the 80s as they do from fluid, stylized rockers like We Ragazzi, they create a mood for themselves. "Boulevard" starts things off on a lovely note, like the perfection of a mannequin before you realize her lifelessness. Being able to be sweeping and heartbreaking are not two things best capitalized upon within their genre, and yet they pull it off flawlessly.

Is there such thing as sincere synth rock? Something that sounds more natural and emotive than a chorus of acoustics and teary eyes? XO proves that real and synthesized are not mutually exclusive. The feel is desolate yet bawdy, and passionately earnest.

"Tragjc Death of Porn Starz" conjures the perfect imagery to befit their stunning illusions. At once, it is downtrodden, luscious, and genuine, as a back beat of thin drums waver between the gauzy vocals of their new wave hymn. The eulogy to decadence is entirely fitting.

"Time Travelz" is unwittingly the most upbeat track on the mini-album, yet the lovelorn, quieted howls overlaying the persistent piano provide dignified dreamscape. There is a sense of movement befitting the entire album, as well as satisfaction in the unknown. XO is buying a redeye ticket without knowing your destination, and wearing a smirk as you stare from the sky.

This is an EP of overpowering, tapped potential: It is a movie reel from a stylish film noir that enwraps your lust to have a secret night life. It is well done synthesizer rock in an age where that is a difficult claim; eager to catch you off guard and whisk you away.

Reviewed by Sarah Iddings
- Lost At Sea

"Poleposition 's New Romantic Vibe"

It's Not Too Often These Days that you hear bands citing Gary Numan as in influence, but NYC's Poleposition candidly name check him, as well as Bryan Ferry and David Sylvian. They're wearing their new wave proudly on their sleeve. Poleposition's EP: XO matches its post-Low chill with a fey and languid new-romantic vibe perfect for a penthouse afternoon of champagne, 'ludes, and ennui. Or, more realistically, a Saturday night of pale ale and conversation at the Larkin. (July 12, 8 PM, $8) - Metroland - Albany

"Cosmopolitan Electronica"

Poleposition, XO Edition 2, Polar Music – Much like the cinematic pieces that Rui Guerreiro and Daniel DaSilva, the men behind Poleposition, have become known for, XO Edition 2 is as much about mood as it is anything else. The aptly titled opener, “Boulevard,” is filled with the palpable angst of a piano line searching for its destination. The feeling of careening down narrow side streets, just ahead of the fuzz, is inescapable. Each of the five tracks on this amazing EP use the interplay between vocals and music to create mood shifts and swings that convey a message, even when it’s about “The Tragic Death of Porn Starz.” Poleposition’s cosmopolitan electronica is occasionally thrilling, often sublime and always engaging - VOX

"Late night music that sparkles"

Poleposition's XO EP is a late-night pop record that carries a smoky lounge vibe in its dark intricate layers, without being lounge music at all, mostly due to the front man's sensual, mysterious voice, which leads the songs down one dark alley after another. You can't help but be reeled in with curiosity, his voice alluring, while the background music sparkles, with you walking towards it, even though you're not sure what is around the corner. Its that mystery that fuels Poleposition and XO, and once you walk into its trap, and it wraps around you like a blanket, its indie rock structure will consume you and make you a fan. - In Music We Trust

"One Word - Sexy"

Poleposition's XO is deserving of some recognition form Silent Uproar. Usually I get one gem in a batch og CDS I'm sent to review and this happens to be just that. The music sounds as if it were lifted from a movie soundtrack. This makes sense; the two gentleman in Poleposition actually wrote film scores before striking out on their own.

In one word, this EP is sexy. It's just so beautiful and enchanting, from the drum parts to the beautiful pianos, to the vocals, which channel a sound a few notches sexier and dreamer than Thom Yorke's. The soundtrack for when you are driving through Europe on the Audobon... or something. The opening track, "Boulevard" is easily one of the more beautiful songs I've come across lately. - Silent Uproar

"The Sound Of The Future"

Back in the time of skinny ties dwelled an obscure band by the name Fra Lippo Lippi, which was to A-ha what Japan was to Duran Duran: an artsy group that inspired a mega-selling pop act without capitalizing on the secondary buzz. Fra's sound is echoed in the icy sonic landscape of Poleposition's XO. Is it the sound of the future or just mimicking circa 1985 attempts to capture the sound of the future. Allow Poleposition its own conceits, it is the 80's child's answer to The Strokes "Is This It" 70's homage, without the hype. Throw it in the CD player, press play, and enjoy. - Amplifier

"Classy People Doing Unclassy Things"

Never mind that the EP copped its title from an Elliot Smith album. Never mind they way they substitue Z's for S's in their song titles. Never mind that the vocals are crooned in a whisper that makes them nearly impossible to decipher. Never mind all the talk of lumping these guys with the new-new-wave bands. Mind that the sexy piano-heavy sound hints at classy people doing unquesitonably unclassy things. Mind that this EP reeks of delicious mischief of all the wrong kinds for all the right reasons. And THEN wait for the full length.
-Mike Krolak - Prefix


EP: XO Edition 2
We Live In Cities


Feeling a bit camera shy


Nights are spent on highway strips, searching for love, music, sympathetic ears, eager eyes and cheap wine.
There is comfort in numbers, and searching eyes fill streets in a hopeful lament. It is math and probability. The heart of every crowded metropolis is a collective lovesick muscle betting everything it has on one great romance.

Daniel, Rui and Ron are from New York and have left hearts in Lisbon, Austin, Algarve, Aveiro, New Jersey, Long Island, and other locales. Poleposition has charted on college stations nationwide and toured the northeast in support of XO, with shows in Boston, Albany, Philly, NYC, DC, Virginia, and New Jersey, ending with a beautifully received showcase as part of CMJ Music Marathon.

This year, Poleposition add new member Ron Pastore, take on a new name, Grey Birds, to be unveiled with their debut full length cd, which they are putting the finishing touches on due out in March.