Hollydrift Waiting for the Tiller
By Ray Van Horn, Jr.
I 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.
Post: PMB 2211, 10002 Aurora Ave N Ste 36, Seattle, WA, 98133-9348, USA
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