Music: Polica

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER , Star Tribune | Updated 8/17/2012

Polica came together super fast. But don't call it a Gayng of four.

Channy Casselle and Polica played a Philadelphia club last month

They already played New York's CMJ fest and opened four other East Coast shows for indie darlings Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. They signed with a reputable national booking agent and are fielding relatively major offers from indie labels. Back on the home front, they took the No. 2 spot two weeks ago in City Pages' Picked to Click poll.

Not bad, considering Poliça is only playing its second local gig Monday and has yet to officially release any music.

"It's been really overwhelming," confirmed Channy Casselle, singer and songwriter in the digitally spawned rock quartet.

As local acts go, the interest in Poliça is not surprising given the participants: Gayngs leader Ryan Olson produced the recordings and enlisted some of his friends. The other members include Vampire Hands' Chris Bierden on bass, Olson's former Digitata bandmate Drew Christopherson on drums, and his ongoing Marijuana Deathsquads collaborator Ben Ivascu, also on drums.

Add to those biographical tidbits the fact that Poliça is arriving just as Casselle's much-loved -- and wildly different -- group Roma di Luna is ending, following her separation from husband and bandmate Alexei Moon Casselle.

"It has been a very tough year and a good year in different ways," Channy said simply.

The good is Poliça, which she called "very therapeutic." Casselle's contributions to last year's Gayngs record prompted her to start writing songs using a computer and digital vocal effects -- namely Auto-Tune. After touring with Gayngs, she and Olson began recording together. They wound up heading down to Spoon drummer Jim Eno's studio in Austin, Texas, where Black Joe Lewis and many others have recorded.

The resulting album is already burning up many a laptop. Tracks range from the elegantly frazzled "Amongster," which almost sounds like a Flaming Lips "Yoshimi" outtake, to the Björk-like hyper-ballad "The Maker" to several wigged-out, Portishead-style chilly grooves, including "Lay Your Cards Out" (featuring Bon Iver/Gayngs guitarist Mike Noyce). Casselle's voice, in a constantly digitalized, electro-whirry state, could turn off a lot of Roma di Luna fans but, she said, is actually a little closer to her personal musical palette.

"I only really became a 'folk singer' through my musical relationship with Alexei, which was wonderful," Casselle said, while making a case for Auto-Tune. "Once I started learning how to use it, I realized how much more adventurous I could be with my voice and my writing. It sort of adds drama to everything, and I love the way it affects the voice like a guitar pedal."

She shrugged off any concerns that the buzz might be lighting up too fast.

"We've all played a lot of shows prior to this, and we feel like we've all worked hard for it," she said. "Now, we just have to make sure we're prepared and can live up to it."