CD Review

Hollydrift – “Waiting for the Tiller”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Waiting for the TillerI came to this recording with high expectations, judging by the cool 1950's art of a girl swinging on the front coupled by the well-executed photograph of a slide ladder on the back. First thing that came to my mind was indie rock; sub pop, to be exact. Another Melvins? “Happy happy, joy joy!” thought I. I'd recently interviewed the Melvins-influenced stoner band Totimoshi, so perhaps therein laid my mistake. I noticed that Hollydrift, along with its label Parasomnic, are housed in Seattle. Right on, this one's a lock, I figured. You know what they say about assumptions. Friends, let me warn you in advance; there's distinct truth about never judging a book by its cover, proof positive with Hollydrift's Waiting for the Tiller. Clever packaging disguises what turns out to be another 70-minute odyssey of coldwave terror. For those of you who embrace coldwave, step on up and get some; Hollydrift assuredly won't disappoint you.

Angst, abrasion, tweaking of external and internal stimuli, long droning vacuums sweeping the listener into a mechanical hellhole, it's all there; all in the guise of art. Hollydrift's brainchild, Mathias Anderson, has an affinity for phone noise; you'll find various beeps, rings and dial tones spliced and morphed throughout the entire project. Pick up the damn phone already, man! The swooning crashes of a track like A Day Like No Other produces a trance made perfect for an acid trip with its synthetic kismet chorus and Hammer-esque screeches, both manipulated and textured into the otherwise besieged coldwave bath. That being said, read the rest of this review at your own risk.

My apologies in advance to Mr. Anderson, but I decided to conduct an experiment while listening to Waiting for the Tiller. I took the sound off mute on MTV2 and found the appropriate volumes to the TV. and stereo to test a theory. With Hollydrift's Lakeshore Skycue I let it blend with Secret Machine's indie-pop video for Nowhere Again since it was obviously indie I was seeking out in this venture. It was interesting to hear the former's rocksteady beat given the latter's ambient synth wash. Not always a match, but in certain spots, yes, they found harmony. Next, I coupled Hollydrift's Ghost from the Third Grade with U2's Vertigo. Now before you accuse me of toking during this review, let me tell you no weed has touched my lips in a very long time! Call this inspiration from frustration. Certain sublimations of Hollydrift lent themselves to U2; I mean, consider U2's Zooropa album; this is certainly not out of the question!

Go on people, give it a try! It's fun! I've said it once, I'll say it again. Coldwave requires a special ear canal to accept its digital bludgeoning at face value. When lent to another medium though, it has certain merit. An excellent example is doom metal blitzkriegers, The Amenta. Just for shits and giggles to prove my point, my final experiment was pairing off Hollydrift's From An Old Horizon with Chingy's hip hoppery, Balla Baby. I swear, I had nothing in my morning cup other than chai, but guess what? The two fell into step with one another like a pair of pissed-off Bush haters! So this leads to a question I will leave you readers to decide: Is coldwave primary or secondary? Why not throw in some Static-X and make the coldwave tertiary? I mean, the winding fuzz loop of From An Old Horizon lends itself to almost any genre.

Okay, I've been pretty harsh with Mr. Anderson, but coldwave, when left in solitude for an abysmal hour-plus, just gets my dander up. So in fairness, let me deconstruct one of Hollydrift's tracks in a different manner. Defense West of Town came really close to triggering an honest groove, but it became more of a digital machine gun stuck on loop with the hollow sickness that prevails on all of the tracks. Anderson redeems himself slightly with the incorporation of organ samples, producing a hockey rink of the damned sensation that got an attentive smile on my face.

I can see that Mathias Anderson put a lot of thought into his craft, given the Walter Cronkite-like soothsayer samples that conveys a creepy finality. And at least he gives us insight into his hollow, warped work in the liner notes. His story is far deeper than I am giving him credit for, and again, my apologies to him. More proof that I should probably be put out to pasture for my coldwave closed-mindedness. Nonetheless, Anderson taps us on the shoulder and whispers in explanation of From An Old Horizon, "We placed them down to warn us of impending doom. But we're not listening anymore." Sorry, bro, neither am I. I need some Judybats, pronto.

Contact Information:
Parasomnic Records
Post: PMB 2211, 10002 Aurora Ave N Ste 36, Seattle, WA, 98133-9348, USA
E-Mail: parasomnicrecords@juno.com
Web: www.parasomnicrecords.com

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