Holy Other Holy OtherWith U
TRI ANGLE (TRIANGLE04, CD + 12” + digital)
It all sounds so easy, logical and attractive with Holy Other that it’s inevitable to ask oneself why it hasn’t happened before. Maybe it isn’t that easy after all to get the winning combination that gets you the big prize. The theory is one thing, the practice is something else entirely: for that you need a special talent, not only an idea. The mix of concepts Holy Other propose goes something like: hypnagogia + cavernous R&B + laidback dubstep, or, in other words, How To Dress Well + Balam Acab + Burial. In other people’s hands, it would become an opportunist pastiche, a vulgar mess; but with Holy Other (a so far unidentified Manchester producer of whom we do know his past: before “With U” he had only released a 7” on Transparent, a label vaguely linked to chill-wave), the magic happens. Which is, by the way, how Tri Angle manage to engross its astonishing artist roster: looking for the hardest to find things in the deepest underground.
“With U” is bigger than words can express. The mix of influences is quite literal, without unexpected surprises, but there’s something about Holy Other that sets off all kinds of sensors: pleasure, nostalgia, sadness, euphoria. Minute by minute, diverse emotions surface, which makes you listen with a mix of surprise and shock. You could argue that the influence of Burial is decisive (the vocals sound low in spite of their heavenly origin, with pitch manipulations and leaving a trace of echo), but it’s not a copy, because Holy Other’s beats are different (except for “Touch”): it’s a kind of toxic downtempo, reminiscent of Hype Williams if, instead of chaos, psychedelica and improvisation, they would feed off Timbaland according to the screwed & chopped technique (and wrapped in gold instead of mud). Witch house? It’s a term that could be useful, because of the nocturnal and somewhat gothic background on tracks like “Feel Something” and “Yr Love”, but there’s no trace of theatrical drama, nor of fake blood made of ketchup. What we get here is embraces and warmth; in fact, these are possibly the most heartbreaking 22 minutes we’ve heard in months.