Swansea (Wales) is the home of Ian Holloway’s imprint, which I currently reckon among the few truly genuine sources for abstract/dark electronica-related genres.
IAN HOLLOWAY & DARREN TATE – Wet Rat Year
Typically lovely cover artwork, with two nice dancing rats that just ask to be joined. The music is, one should say, “Dadaist as usual”: absolutely impossible in fact to predict what these men will do from a record to the next, especially when Darren Tate is involved. In this case, we have less drones and field recordings than the norm (except a beautiful conversation of honking ducks at the beginning of a track) and LOTS of distorted/warped guitars, digital delays in “hold” mode and, I presume, nonconformist analogue synthesis. In parts, the whole is unambiguously alluring, principia of acid degenerations reinforced by utter corrosions of the audio message (which is a desired effect). At the end of the CD, an FM radio station appears to further destabilize the residual comfort. Those who expect something along the coordinates of Monos, or the most bucolic sides of both artists, are going to remain seriously deluded. This is harsh stuff, achingly dissonant at times, but the substance is clearly visible for the knowledgeable ones.
BANKS BAILEY – Vibrations From The Holocene
First meeting with field-recording artist Bailey for yours truly. The large part of the album is devoted to natural sounds, which may have become commonplace these days but are always preferred to useless music in this writer’s room. Here we find what everybody expects: chanting crickets, gurgling waters, strong wind, steps on leaves, cracking wood, buzzing flies. Heard a million times, yet still beautiful. Also nice the “urban” interlude recorded in downtown Springfield, Ohio in which a bell tower is translucently juxtaposed with train horns and remote traffic-derived reverberations. Overall, what Bailey managed to capture at their most tenderly compelling is the heartbreaking singing of the birds, to which the real ones outside the house seem to respond. Do we necessarily need legitimate artistic progress to appreciate the soul of the earth? My answer is definitely “no”. As obvious as these tapes sound, they’re gorgeous and I’d love listening to these voices all day long.
IAN HOLLOWAY – She Loves To See The Sky
Holloway is especially keen on keyboard-generated drones, and this 40-minute offering is no exception. Again, nothing to cry miracle at but a pleasing listen without particular troubles. The large part of the work’s weight lies on the broad shoulders of classically throbbing subsonic lows, most often deriving from clustered layers in the low regions of the instruments, whatever they are. Particularly in the first half, percussive presences – of the post-industrial kind – thud and reverberate in the mix to add a degree of instability, but then the moaning river stays in its bed more or less till the end of the album, probably for the better. A honest effort which is not difficult to mentally connect with, provided that we remain aware of this music’s pre-determined field of action and well-known boundaries. A steady company from a peddler of sincere-sounding electronic music who privileges solidity and openness to incomprehensible sentence-spitting hiding sonic fraudulence.