Holy Other – Held
One of the most eagerly anticipated electronic debut albums of the last few years, reclusive and enigmatic UK producer Holy Other's Held does not disappoint. It is an album of contradictions: his productions are minimal and sparse, but richly layered and deeply textured, with washes of synths, sampled and treated vocals and tight, subtly-structured drums.
There is an emotional warmth to tracks like opener (W)here and Tense Past, but also a cold, melancholy sense of distance on tracks like Impouring and U Now. Lazy comparisons with Burial and the wave of 'ghost garage' producers in his wake are not helpful – the way Holy Other uses his pitched vocal samples is orchestral, using snatches of human voice to haunt the skeleton of each track, gently evoking meaning and atmosphere from sighs, syllables and word fragments.
The real triumph of Held is emotional – rarely has instrumental electronic music been so heartfelt; simultaneously transcendent, uplifting, stately and sad. Absolutely exquisite.