top of page
Polo & Pan & the BauHouse

 Evan Dale // Feb 15 2022 

Polo & Pan-01.jpg

From 1919 to 1933, the Bauhaus art school in Germany aimed to culture Gesamtkunstwerk in which the arts could be brought together comprehensively to express everything creative. Quickly, from the built environment, product intention, and industrial design to fine arts, graphic design, and font studies, Bauhaus dredged a phenomenally deep footprint on Europe and beyond. Successful to say the least, the movement has – as much as any other modernist crusade alongside Art Deco, Scandinavian minimalism, and Afrofuturism – informed the manmade physical world as we see it today. And yet, perhaps it fell short. Gesamtkunstwerk was always supposed to merge the lanes of all the arts, not only the visual. So, where was music?


Simply, perhaps our collective human nature had prioritized the eye, the fingertip, and the tongue over the ear. It would seem that as the world progressed through an age post the industrial revolution, that design was hellbent on modernizing technologies for a new kind of war, spaces for a new kind of life, cocktails for a new spectrum of taste, fashion for a new era of women, and art that could divert entirely from the past greats and pave its own way. At the same time that the Bauhaus was propelling forward graphic design with pops of color and experimentation with geometry; at the same time that Frank Lloyd Wright was constructing brash modernist homes infused with minimalist and also often Bauhaus ideals; at the same time that bartenders in New Orleans were stirring the classics into cocktail books; at the same time that Coco Chanel was reinventing the standards of comfort and style, Swing music would have topped the charts if the charts had then existed. Modern music – through the technological advances and sociocultural transformations of the 20th Century’s latter half and through the beginning of the new Millenia – has roots bore much more closely to our present moment in time than the other sensations that define a culture creatively. Sure, fine art, architecture, food, drink, and fashion have all changed too, albeit at their own respective paces, but what we know of them now would have still been recognizable through a modernist lens a century ago. Music, on the other hand, has honed a different evolution.


Rock – born from a progression in Southern Blues – would take a recognizable form only after the Second World War. Hip-hop can trace its lineage to Bronx house parties in the late 70’s. And electronic music – in all of the forms as we now know it – can point to techno movements in the 80’s from both Germany and Detroit at origins that would eventually cross paths and spark a global phenomenon that has only gained steam and esteem with each passing year. EDM, bass, dubstep – all have had their (often cringeworthy) moments, and still thrive – but alongside minimal techno, refinement and longevity find their electronically auditory partner in crime with house music. You know it when you hear it. 120 beats per minute, Chicago roots, French fame, boots and cats and old-school European Ecstasy. House music is here to stay, infusing itself into hip-hop, R&B, and Neo-Soul through artists like Haitian-born, Montreal-raised Kaytranada, all the while infiltrating every other corner of music on a global scale. It’s survival, and indeed its thriving nature, are owed to both the structure in its pace and its fluidity in everything else.


From France, with a whole new spin on fusing house music with globally sourced samples and a taste for musical vibrancy that can only be described with color, Polo & Pan are carving out a new chapter in electronic music that itself feels not only pulled from, but anthemic of the Bauhaus.


To really understand how it is that modern music could be equated to the visual spectrum of a German design movement from the 1920’s, anyone would need some context and detail, so here it is: Paul Armand-Delille (Polo) and Alexandre Grynszpan (Pan) are products of famed Parisian Bar, Club Baron where, in the early 2010’s amongst a French boom in Dreamwave music, the two DJ’d as individual acts before meeting and teaming up in 2012. From there, they took their roots in French house music, the eclectic whimsy of their early days DJing through Dreamwave, and set out to invent something entirely new. Sourcing inspiration and subsequently samples from an array of global cultures often untapped by the mainstream, Polo & Pan launched a series of three EP’s exploring the range in their sound while refining just how to tether akin such a grandiose spectrum of aesthetic and experimentation. In 2017, with the release of their debut album, Caravelle, they nailed it. Leading single, Canopée would go on to chart in France and Belgium, while in the same breath introducing their unique sound to an electronic world never starved of something new, but always in search of the nouveau that can become the necessary and transformational. Beaming with sunshiny positivity, beachy chords, pastel synth strokes, and fun-loving samples, the two took a sound modeled by fellow French DJ duo, Justice’s sensational D.A.N.C.E. and launched its nursery rhyme addictability and unendingly danceable warmth into the sonic stratosphere. From top-to-bottom, Caravelle’s near-hour in length shines with the kind of happy-go-lucky positivism that should find itself soundtracking rosé-drunken beach parties from Brazil to Bali, all the while begging of its listeners to ask, ‘What the fuck am I listening to?’

The question is natural to anyone listening to Polo & Pan for the first time. The innate whimsy of their soundscape is nothing if not violently fantastical. Caravelle – from the design of its album cover to its trailblazing auditory aesthetic – pops with chimes, samples, silliness, and pigment. Like primary colors taken from the visual realm and brought into the auditory one; different shades turned into different octaves; different hues informing different synth strokes, Polo & Pan go beyond crafting music. Instead, they bring graphic design from a world seen into a world heard. Evoking a childlike wonder in anyone listening, and indeed channeling an alive-and-well inner child in each of their respective artistries, the two craft sonic worlds that harp on Suessian reminiscence; starburst with Nickelodeon orange, and pull each and everyone on the other end of their soundwaves into a kind of dizzyingly ubiquitous comfort that provokes dance and sometimes uncontrollable bouts of laughter.


And what about their live performances? Simply put, a Polo & Pan concert feels like an Oompa Loompa rave - jumpsuits and all. Whether sporting matching onesies or alternating bath robes, the two nonchalantly command a table overflowing with boards, keyboards, and a barrage of other instrumental playthings with more confidence and charisma in their charming goofiness than you’ll find in the stereotype of French stoicism. Neither hardened nor cold, Polo & Pan have a knack at extending their individual personalities - as well as their collective one - to each and every person in their audience. Back to the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory comparisons because it seems – along with that of Dr. Seuss or Alice in Wonderland – the most tangible narrative universe from which to source visionary descriptions of their concerted discourse. As if all of the molten chocolate in the Willy Wonka Factory river had French house music pumped through its confectionary curio by way of dozens of Funktion-One speakers, the vibrant audiovisual aesthetic of Polo & Pan – and often chandelier gowned, exhaustingly dancing Victoria Lafaurie at the microphone with them – explode with otherworldly bizarre.

In an improvised setting like that of Serre-Monumentale en Paris they may take on a more subdued, natural DJ role while still dancing away at the boards to the tune of their most unusual creations.  At state-of-the-art venues across the globe as part of their numerous world tours, they turn up the amplitude more than any other modern act, immersing their audience in sparkling eccentricity. It’s in the carefree nature with which they embrace the youthfully creative, crafting worlds with a refined understanding of their one-of-a-kind sound, folding in myriad cultural samples that span the world in the process.


French, of course, dominates the linguistic map of their canon, with tracks like Canopée convincing anyone to sing along whether or not they understand it at all. But with songs like their most recent global hit, Ani Kuni, they move beyond French or English, or even a productively instrumental soundscape sourced for somewhere seemingly nondescript, but certainly tropical, and instead source a sample from the Arapahoe tribe while folding it into a beat that follows suit. Through the track, they evoke youthful exuberance by way of a chanting child choir inundating anyone listening with a language they almost certainly have no understanding of, but with positivist elation and communal celebration that any living being can probably sense and relate to. And that, much like the unfinished workings of Gesamtkunstwerk, is the magic of Polo & Pan’s far-reaching embrace.


Invitingly warm, tastefully colorful, globally sourced, internationally reaching, and creatively all-encompassing, Polo & Pan are manning the wheel through the rise of a BauHouse movement, bringing something that feels like new, vibrant, and universally understandable visual design, sourced from a mosaic of worldly cultures, infused with the caprice of youthful oddity, to the world of electronic music.

bottom of page