Holy Other – Held

August 29th, 2012
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Holy Other is something of an enigma. Very little is known about this Manchester based producer, and his debut album Held does little to shed any light on his identity. He is set to hit some North American tour dates with Amon Tobin in the near future, so perhaps more will be revealed. Until then we have Held, nine tracks of clues to comb through.

The music is something entirely its own. Ambient grooves, heavy on layered synth lines and backed by drums so loaded with reverb that the listener may feel like he’s under water. Yet where these songs have the potential to go on for eons longer than they do, Holy Other has chosen to disregard the tendency toward the long, wandering soundscapes that dominate this genre. Most of the tracks here are short enough for commercial radio play.

At times, the music can even feel too brief, but it seems like the artist is shooting more for pop as much as avant-garde. Several songs featured chopped up, warped and looped R&B vocal samples arranged into eerily tender melodies. One of the record’s strongest cuts, “Impouring,” achieves this chopping and looping so well that the samples start to sound like live improvised verses.

If there is any downfall for Held, it is the sort of in-betweenness that pervades the music. It falls somewhere in the neighborhood of ambient pop with trip-hop influences, but doesn’t go far enough in any direction to be an outstanding example of any particular genre. The songs don’t develop quite enough to reach full soundscape status, and they don’t have the hooks or structure needed to be memorable as pop songs.

Held is an interesting collection of moody atmospheric jams. It doesn’t quite hit any particular mark, but should be a good listen for anyone seeking a little mystery. Holy Other shows a lot of potential on this record, and it will be interesting to see where he goes next.

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By Sean Taras Posted in Reviews

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Holy Other – Held