It’s a rare occasion that an artist comes along who awards one with a chance to splurge out such hapless clichés as ‘enigmatic’, ‘ethereal’, and ‘let the music do the talking’ without ever having to justify them. Holy Other is just that artist. There are no tricks on this album, no stumbling blocks; just 35 minutes of effortless dreaming.
And that would be great, except it’s not. It’s true that everything in a dream comes from a previous real life experience – and so it is with Held. There is not a sound, beat, button or synth in the entire half hour that doesn’t brim with reminiscence and nostalgia, along with a nagging sense of déjà vu. You’ve heard it all before. The overall effect is of a very finely chopped collage; like one of those Barack Obama pictures made up of millions of voter’s faces. Except with those you can zoom in and make out the little bits that made the dream possible. Here, you’re stuck. It’s the bigger picture or bust.
Before I get mired in obsessive, pedantic metaphor, I should say that it’s a pity, because I really wanted to love this album. Holy Other treads that same sublime blueprint laid down by the inevitable touchstones – Burial, Kimbie, Blake, Woon – atmospheric electronics at their most atmospheric. Or rather, retreads. It really is all blueprint; If I’ve gotten this far without using the words industrial and/or woozy it’s only by divine luck. You’ve got your panned shuffling hats; you’ve got your reversed chained organs; you’ve got your chopped r&b samples and vocals pumped juicily full of reverb. Not a foot wrong.
In short, it’s everything that’s modern about modern electronics, and Tri Angle have most probably backed a winner in that respect. Legions of slathering black-clad Kode9ophiles will put this on their best of year list, and it will be hailed as an effortless peaking work of art in the post-whatever. But progression, it ain’t. Nor is it unexpected or visionary or new or interesting or anything else that it will probably be called. It’s just about 100% what you would expect, and that, my friends, makes for a very average listen.
Released 28th August 2012 by Tri Angle Records