Polyphia’s Tim Henson and Scott LePage have pressed their nylon-string guitars into action for the trailblazing Texan instrumentalists’ first single in three years, Playing God.
This being Polyphia, and Henson and LePage being the players and producers they are, they take the nylon-string into uncharted waters, with JUDGE joining Henson and LePage in the control booth to help cook up a sound that augments what we might consider guitar music.
That, after all, has been the Polyphia MO since day one, and if guitar music has an agent provocateur with the intent and the chops to revolutionise the art form it is Henson. Famously, he told us in a 2019 roundtable with Covet that not only did he not listen to guitar music, he wanted it to die, painfully.
“I see [guitar music] being less guitar-centred, and more musical,” said Henson. “Because I hope that guitar music dies. I want it to die a painful death, because so much of it is just bullshit. And I feel like people should focus more on the music itself and use the guitar as a tool to make music versus, like, ‘I’m going to play guitar music,’ you know what I mean? Because so much of it is just not good.”
But the threat implicit in this statement was that what, in effect, Henson and the present day cohort of bleeding-edge guitar players were going to remake guitar music anew. They will reference other genres, collaborate with producers from different styles.
The Playing God video divides its time between an ornate hall with Henson, LePage, Clay Gober on bass guitar, and drummer Clay Aeschliman playing in unison – a scene that looks like it was inspired by Denis Villeneuve's Dune – and shots of LePage and Henson reclining on fancy chairs in what looks like a mansion built on '90s hip-hop money.
That's just the sort of venue where the prodigiously talented guitar player of today might check into now and again to demonstrate how traditional ideas of Arrastre and Golpe technique can be transposed to a rhythmically alien landscape, and to keep their Ibanez nylon-string guitars honest.
Playing God was co-written with Wes Hauch (Alluvial), and features additional production from Y2K and Johan Lenox. It arrives ahead of Polyphia’s first US headlining tour, which opens on 28 July in Houston, Texas. See Polyphia for full dates.