On Phonospheric

IAN HOLLOWAY – Passing Through Occasionally

It’s been a while without enjoying Holloway’s ever-welcome electronic canvases. This piece lasts 37 minutes, a single track calling for the utilization of the “repeat” mode. There’s not much happening on the surface, but if you perk up your ears that “much” resides in the background, or in the disguised layers. Under a foundation of murmurs and whirrs, minimal activities occur: cyclical knocks materializing then instantly fading away, a few notes (apparently from a clean-toned electric guitar) and a measure of concrete sonority perfectly integrated in the essential texture. Birds and water appear for a number of frames, sounding unobtrusive and functional. As the music flows, the thickness of its mass increases a bit and further components – such as suspended drones – make their voice heard. The whole shifts to more disquieting atmospheres after the twentieth minute, the irregularity of the synthetic waves meshing with a sort of muted dissonant harmony until melancholic lyricism prevails, enhanced by the processed echoes of a barely discernible reality.


The label’s founder is a composer of rather simple music occasionally invading the territories of ominousness. His pieces may lack complications in the compositional structure, yet possess a quality that is sorely missing from the large part of the area’s dabblers: honesty. There’s no shame in deciding that a track must be constructed upon a single chord if one thinks that it is enough. It’s how that gift is offered to a listener that makes the difference, and Shenton appears like those toddlers who come at you giving whatever is in their hands at that moment – a teddy bear, a pencil, a blank sheet, a stone – smiling from the heart, convinced that they’re doing the most beautiful gesture. These experiments mix various influences with the engenderer’s personality; they include moments of pure pleasure where everything looks placed – to quote Shenton himself – “into a bright, sunny whole” (“Standstill”). A record that lets us accept both its qualities and weaknesses – say, a sporadic excess of consonance – with a tolerant disposition, Slowtime is worthy of a “balmy electronica” sticker.


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