Keepin’ it on the (way) down low.
Tri Angle, 2012
6.1 / 10.0
If nothing else, Holy Other has the icy and bleak down about as well as anyone could. He came across the transom in 2010 with the release of the We Over EP. Eschewing photographs of his face and performing live on darkened stages with his visage draped in a black cowl, The Artist Known as Holy Other has embraced the whole nameless/faceless thing, and admittedly, it pairs well with his glassy, dusky compositions.We Over was followed in 2011 by With U, a second EP for Transparent, which once again highlighted the act’s shimmering, heart freezing songs. Holy Other may have been easily lumped in with the now, more or less, hopefully defunct witch house movement, but his arrangements have at least as much in common with dubstep and goth, as well as 80’s electronic acts.
Now, Holy Other has set forth with his debut long-player, Held. The Manchester and Berlin locales the producer has chosen to set up shop would seem apt, and he has continued to retain the anonymity favored by many of his brethren in the electronic music ionosphere. So where does that leave listeners of Held? In a somewhat undefined spot, as the songs here maintain their reflective sheen, frequently leaving out any real chance to dig below the surface.
It should be pointed out that Held sounds tremendous and clean. The bass never quite reaches the lower levels of headphone shaking, in-the-red grit that acts like Salem, or the mysteriousness of How to Dress (well, at least not in terms of the sonics). Opening track, “(W)here” opens with an earth-shaking bass crackle that could easily be an underwater volcano recording, but it never hits that note again throughout the album. The case could be made that “(W)here” is the standout on Held. Holy Other employs vocals on several of Held‘s tracks if not necessarily sung lyrics. It begs the question if the occasional vocal track expanded into a complete lyrical accompaniment might push Held past merely serviceable, into occasionally great territory. Fifth cut, “U Now” comes closest, and its success sticks out like a midget in a men’s big and tall clothing section. It’s not necessarily a fault of the artist so much as the style, which while expansive, frequently feels empty.
Purchase: Holy Other – Held