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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Holy Other | Held [Review]

01 (W)here     02 Tense Past     03 Inpouring     04 Love Some1     05 U Now     
06 In Difference     07 Past Tension     08 Held     09 Nothing Here

A week ahead of it's official release (27th August 2012) Tri-Angle Records have released the brand new album from Holy Other for streaming.

Upon the surface the mysterious Manchester-based artist makes it look easy. Swirling auras of hazy synths upon droning bass. But dig a little deeper and you'll soon realise this is far from your ordinary electronic ambiance. Layers upon layers of ethereally sampled vocals create different dimensions with each listen. New sounds appear and interconnect in their own special way crating a wholesome and charismatic appeal. It's hard not to make the comparison to Burial here.

Whilst sometimes uneasy the remarkable beauty this album possesses is undeniably exquisite. Never static each and every track on the record blossoms and evolves from it's birth state although unlike a caterpillars larva Holy Other's compositions are already aesthetically pleasing like a butterfly to begin with.

Setting the tone for the album (W)here kicks things off with it's intrinsic harmonies building and building creating the slow paced energy we're used to hearing from Holy Other, truly demonstrating his layering capabilities. Heart stoppingly beautiful, the reverb drenched snares and off beat mechanical glitches are more than enough to set the lead for the rest of the album. Track 3, Inpouring, picks the pace back up, although only momentarily, with its subtle tempo shifts the track remains to keep you on edge. Being a big fan of minimal Inpouring echoes its spacial charm throughout with plenty of drive and orchestral style chopped vocals. Effortlessly flowing in to previously released Love Some1 an horizon of floaty synths open up to a swell of misery and longing. It's only at the midway point the true haunting nature becomes apparent like an Alfred Hitchcock horror movie with its killer stabs (terrible pun alert). An endless chasm yet Holy Other manages in his own ghostly way to bring light from darkness.

U Now, my favourite on the album, creates an overwhelming moment of tranquillity and calm. Whilst the track subconsciously builds around its warmth and lethargy it's not until the final few bars you realise all along you have been held by it's cold grasp clinging tightly around your neck only to be released in a reverberated awakening. It's only here your suspension of great sensibility becomes semblant. Mesmerisingly hypnotic.

Other stand out tracks include the also previously heard title track track Held. At just over 6 minutes it's the longest composition on the record, and for me, the brightest. Whilst the majority of the new LP remains to stay in the shadows the clouds clear and the monsoons dissipate with Held's seamless change in key with some of the most sedative synths and rapturous chords I've heard. And finally the closer Nothing Here. Heart wrenchingly sensitive Nothing here's vocals create an emotive passage in to the percussive depths of its meandering soundscapes.

Overall the album is more than affectionately pleasing. And even though on one hand to some people may come across samey same in places I believe it's all just part of Holy Other's signature, spellbinding charm. The comprehended depth displayed throughout more than makes up for the albums relatively short length and displays an expansive array of mind numbingly, bewitching compositions. Delicately fragile and earnestly sublime this record is sure to be a strong contender for album of the year. 9/10
****

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