In a world of the internet, and social networking sites where music fans speculate over what their favourite artist has had for breakfast, it is refreshing when it is nearly impossible to find information on an act. This mystery works well for producer Holy Other, based in Manchester but seemingly taking his music to another dimension. Not only is Holy Other a subject where there is little to gain knowledge, but the music is, gloriously, equally ambiguous.
Once the opening track ‘(W)here’ has given clear insight to the sort-of-r’n’b-sort-of-chillwave-sort-of-nothing sound which follows all of ‘Held’, the LP gains a larger sense of melody with the mid-90s vocals (which are strangely reminiscent to Destiny’s Child?) in songs such as ‘Impouring’. With a slow, baggy pace to the album, those more used to upbeat synth sounds may find it a bit hard to swallow, but listen deeply, and the ears are rewarded with the textural tones of ‘U Now’, in which chopped up vox and a clicking sound reminiscent of 90s board game ‘Perfection’ are made sensual atop a bed of swaying, swirling synthesisers. As this morphs into ‘In Difference’, there is a slight hint of Aphex Twin in the song’s structure, or lack of, which works perfectly with the spot-on choice of samples and sounds which create this album.
As the concluding third of the album comes into shape with ‘Past Tension’, there is a sense of repetition- both in the fact that a lot of the album sounds very similar after a while, but also by the fact that this three-minute song revolves around approximately five seconds of music repeated from start to finish. Thankfully, ‘Held’s title track remedies this; a claustrophobic, club-friendly, dark-bedroom friendly, darkly-unfriendly sounding track, it pulses into form within a spacey six minutes. The up of pace is welcomed, and it seems that this is the track which will create most attention for Holy Other. The album closes with ‘Nothing Here’, which hosts an atmosphere similar to that of fellow electronic-goth mysterians SALEM. The merging of an 80s synthline and 90s vocals in this song are, surprisingly, a match made in heaven, and continue with the ethereal, dazed quality this album possesses.
A soothing, dreamy record, ‘Held’ clocks in at just 35 minutes, but its repetitive and pulsating tracks hold the LP just well enough to be one of the most relaxing, interesting listens of the year.