Holy Other #1 & Balam Acab #4 in XLR8R’s Best Of 2011 (Posted By Harry)

Holy Other (Tri Angle)

XLR8R’s Best Of List 2011

Holy Other (TriAngle)#1 Holy Other With U (Tri Angle)

“Even though UK producer Holy Other literally remains a shrouded figure, the mystery and mystique surrounding his persona has done nothing to prevent him from breaking out in a huge way in 2011. Anyone who’s kept up with XLR8R‘s Best of 2011 lists shouldn’t be terribly surprised that With U has been deemed our #1 record of the year. It may only contain five songs, yet two of those wound up in the top 20 of our best tracks list (those that didn’t make it wouldn’t have been the least bit out of place), and the EP was largely responsible for propelling Holy Other to the second slot on our wrap-up of 2011’s best new artists.

In all honesty, it’s hard to say a whole lot more about Holy Other and his music without sounding like gushing fanboys. Nevertheless, With U is an incredible record. Even with its dark and dour drones—which are incredibly intoxicating on their own merits—the EP is stuffed with tangible emotion, some of which is surprisingly bright and all of which is incredibly potent. The music was undoubtedly produced in the bedroom, but no other venue could be more appropriate for its genesis, as the ghostly whispers of the warped vocal clips and the lurching drag of its drawn-out melodies speak to a universal sense of isolation that unites us all.

There’s an undeniable feeling of longing that permeates the record—quite possibly making With U the perfect soundtrack for an existence in which technology has placed a whole world of possibilities just a few keystrokes away, yet people by and large inexplicably feel lonelier than ever. It sounds to us like Holy Other is searching for connection, only he doesn’t know quite where to look, and the vast expanse of the universe isn’t providing much in the way of easy answers. It’s a quiet struggle that we’re all grappling with, which is probably why so many continue to rally around these five deeply affecting tracks.
Written By Shawn Reynaldo


Balam Acab - "Wander/Wonder" (Tri Angle)#4 Balam Acab Wander/ Wonder (Tri Angle)

“When an album doesn’t immediately captivate you with its songwriting, there needs to be another element that, for lack of a better word, compensates. Maybe it’s a unique sound that resonates with your musical sensibilities, or maybe its a fully constructed sonic world that’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before. On Wander/Wonder, the debut LP by young artist Alec Koone (a.k.a. Balam Acab), it’s both of those things, but that’s not to say there’s an utter lack of songwriting skill within these eight productions. Tracks like “Apart,” “Expect,” and “Oh, Why” certainly have their own kind of loose structures; they sound like R&B and radio-friendly pop tunes written by mermaids and the ghosts of Rodgers & Hammerstein. It’s all quite arresting and beautiful, no matter what you think of its shape. However, it’s ultimately Koone’s attention to detail and his knack for filling each moment of his music with layers of vibrant sound that outshines the songwriting. The producer himself has described his album as a journey, but for us, listening to Wander/Wonder feels more like floating underwater amongst the quiet, incandescent life of a choral reef. Each synth sound is like a flurry of bubbles rising to the surface or a school of glowing fish swimming across your view; the sonic textures feel like a handful of sand or your fingertips grasping onto a porous rock; every rhythm moves like a gentle current taking the pieces of the composition from one reef to another. It’s all so vibrant and fulfilling that you just about forget that this music isn’t the least bit normal at all, but exploring the unique structures of Balam Acab’s immersive universe offers a richness all its own.”
Wrriten By Patric Fallon

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