Holy Other's "Held"

Holy Other's "Held"

  • Article by: Jon O'Brien
  • Posted: 08/23/2012

In an era when artists are expected to bare their souls via various social networks on a daily basis, it’s quite the feat that Berlin-based Mancunian producer Holy Other has managed to remain so enigmatic, with both his real name and face yet to be unveiled.  

His debut album, Held, is unlikely to provide many answers. Occupying the same nocturnal post-garage space as Burial’s ground-breaking debut, it’s as dark, murky and funereal as his Grim Reaper-style image would suggest.

“(W)Here” is an ominous fusion of disjointed rhythms, 8-bit bleeps and haunting Gregorian chant-style vocal loops, the latter of which dominates the album. The creepy ambient soul of “U Now” is made all the more unsettling by its frantic rattling percussion, while the woozy title track sounds like a classic house anthem that’s fallen into a major caffeine slump.

Considering the album is inspired by the feeling of being trapped in a relationship, it’s not surprising that the majority of its nine tracks are so heavily oppressive. However, there are a few more melodic moments which indicate there’s at least some light at the end of the tunnel.

The crystalline synths and chopped-up soulful harmonies on “Inpouring” offer a distorted take on the quiet storm sound of the ‘80s, as does the sensual “Past Tension,” while there’s even a hint of Interpol-esque guitars amongst the pitch-shifted samples and emphatic dubstep beats of “Tense Past.”

Held may be too relentlessly melancholic for some but there’s an undeniable beauty within its disorientating soundscapes that makes its misery wallowing strangely compelling. 

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