Holy Other – Held Review

Rating: Simply, if you love Burial’s 2-step elegies it’s likely you’ll enjoy this. Holy Other’s debut follows on quite gracefully…

Darren Millard

Contributor

Rating: ★★★★☆

Simply, if you love Burial’s 2-step elegies it’s likely you’ll enjoy this. Holy Other’s debut follows on quite gracefully from his With U EP released last year, and the codeine-laced vibe is similarly chilled and soothing. What makes the album so great is the masterful use of pitch-shifted vocal samples that morph into masculine and feminine shapes at an impressively effortless pace. You’d also be hard-pressed to find any rough edges during the course of the album, and I haven’t heard vocal samples toyed with so effectively since Burial’s Kindred EP earlier this year.

‘Tense Past’ deploys a child-like voice that is incredibly emotive, sounding like a diva wail that’s had the unnecessary vocal showboating bits lopped off so it can sharply pierce you where it counts. The exquisitely detailed craftsmanship continues with ‘Love Some1’ and its soft feminine voice that loops over itself like incoming waves atop a subtle and moody orchestral surge. Three minutes in another more intelligibly-formed voice eases in, relaying what sounds like the words ‘what goes on?’ in a mantra-like fashion. ‘In Difference’s’ mournful masculine groan is joined by a sweet and slightly hard-edged female voice that duet in tandem, seemingly saying ‘eat my heart’ or ‘feed my heart’ over lethargically tapped percussion.

‘In Pouring’s’ use of a heavily melancholic vocal sample enunciating itself in varying pitches is very effective. Rock-hard finger clicking and 80’s-sounding bell-synths compound a song that manages to blend the moodiness of Massive Attack with the nostalgic appeal of an old ballad you haven’t heard in forever. The heart-attack BPM of ‘U Know’ stems from a footwork influence and adds a disorientating drug-like slur to the album’s atmosphere; quick-smart beats over a sluggish vocal sample. Two and a half minutes in a monotonous industrial rumble is reminiscent of Fever Ray’s ‘If I Had a Heart’ which feels apt considering that Fever Ray’s own album utilised deformed voices to complement a memorable other-world feeling.

There’s no mistaking that this is a record best heard with headphones on and eyes closed, or alone at night. And those voices must signify absence and yearning, perfectly signified by the bed sheets on the album cover: once used and held for comfort, perhaps shared, but presently abandoned.