There’s a website called Radiooooo.com that functions as a digital time machine for music. You can choose a year, country and pace (fast, slow or weird) to guide you through time and space. There’s Nigerian music from the 1960s, Argentinian tunes from the 1920s and countless more combinations to comb through.
It’s a wonderful little tool that was launched by Alexandre Grynszpan, one-half of the French electronic duo Polo & Pan. Spend enough time on Radiooooo, and you can begin to understand how Paul Armand-Delille (Polocorp) and Grynszpan (Peter Pan) have fused acoustic, global sounds with modern dance music to create exotic, enchanting songs that are altogether unique yet familiar.
Polo & Pan’s first-ever single, “Rivolta,” mixed a vocal sample from a 1930s Italian song with a funky disco-like bassline. Their first full-length EP, Dorothy, functioned as an exotic tribute to "The Wizard of Oz" and other imaginative stories we learn as children.
"All of our inspirations are dead," Grynszpan joked between vaporizer puffs before their debut show in San Diego in September.
That night, Polo & Pan welcomed the crowd with an arrangement from famed French composer Vladimir Cosma that sounded like it originated from a circus tent. They then wandered through foreign folk and fairy tales as pygmy flutes, shamanic drums and xylophones washed over thousands of ears during the hour-long set.
“We travel a lot and we take a lot of music from each country,” Grynszpan said. “So, every time we find something in a country, we try to have our music belong to this place.”
Polo & Pan tracks often proceed at a considerably slower pace than most dance songs. Superficially, they sounded quite out of place at San Diego’s CRSSD Festival, an event dominated by house and techno. Nevertheless, the saccharine crescendos elicited the same enthusiastic reactions as the plentiful industrial techno drops.
“We’ve noticed the crowd has changed in the U.S. since our last tour,” said Armand-Delille. “I think we used to get a lot of expats. But now more Americans are aware of the project, which is really nice.”
Both men are devoted fans of cinema — Grynszpan long held dreams of making movies and attended film school — and their creation process is oddly similar to that of a visual medium.
They start by scripting and storyboarding songs. Most of their songs have two stages, separated by a switch where they change the core melody, similar to a twist in a movie.
That is a starkly different method compared to most electronic artists, who often fiddle around on production software until they’ve fashioned a beat or melody they can build around. Perhaps that is why many electronic producers can fall into similar patterns as their peers, while you’d be hard-pressed to find anything on contemporary radio that sounds like Polo & Pan.
“We’re always trying to move onto the next idea and starting point,” said Armand-Delille. “With this project, we’ve shown we can go different places, so it’s open to keep on traveling through time and space to different places.”
Following the July release of “Gengis,” a heavier track that Grynszpan has described as “a tribute to the moon” to complement their sunnier songs, Polo & Pan is set to head back to the studio in the suburbs of Paris this month. From there, It’s anyone’s guess where — or when — their music will transport them.