Two weeks ago on the last day of the heatwave, I popped down to see Holy Other play the best electronic show London has seen in months. He’s always been a confounding performer – dressed veil-to-toe in black against bright projections of seas and flint, his sound is warm and giving. The bass that rattled XOYO’s vents was a comforting weight, rather than oppressive.
The first single from the Manchester producer’s debut album ‘Held’ just hit the net, and is a showcase of everything that makes this producer so thrilling and vital. It’s poised and suggestive, firing the imagination with its yawning vastness, while sparse and simple enough to wander through.
It’s a rounder sound and a funkier feeling for Holy Other; musically, the song reminds of Aaliyah and Steve Reich and DJ Screw and Sweet Female Attitude and Joy Division. In weight and feeling, it recalled other things that no other artist has brought together, like coming out of a dreadful breakup, or fondly remembering a dead friend, or yawning, or dancing in a groove of your own with a thousand other people when the house lights shine out from a main stage, or unmade beds that smell of your lover, and arms downed with soft hair.
His previous records, through Transparent and Tri Angle, who will release ‘Held’, impressed with their instant hooks and crushing emotional weight. This has neither, yet works terrifically. More bold than his early work, and confident, it’s a showoff track from a guy that doesn’t mind about the world. Pride is a feeling running through every soft beat and the keys that nag and swirl, a confidence in the ability to sound like no-one else but himself, and to be making music in a time and place which is his own. A truer light for the darker days, and a feeling for patient space, poetry in motion, crucial to these thrilling times.