Saturday, January 7, 2017
HEROIN HOLIDAY "Near Places" (Ostresamigos)
One of the great attributes of electronic music is the lack of a template an artist must follow to meet a certain criteria. Resultantly, the artist must determine its own goals and then proceed. Is it to express a feeling, stimulate an audience? Length? Dynamics? Structure? Lack of structure?
Consideration of any number of these or none at all? Therein lies the beauty.
But also the dilemma as a reviewer. With no baseline how does one evaluate? Given I am allotted a good number of these to review, this dialogue is ongoing in my mind. It's all apples to oranges. So what do I do?
I listen to each tape on its own terms. I try to not make comparisons, though I do acknowledge influences, should there be any that are obvious. Take Heroin Holiday for example. This tape, a full length offering titled "Near Places" immediately strikes me as well-recorded. The sound is upfront, bright, clear, dynamic. It opens with "Sky" a dreamy bell-laden work that is both original and engaging. Immediately followed by "D333 Trax" which meshes well with the first track yet sounds nothing like it. A redundant pattern of synth beat interspersed with various bloops, bleeps and other noises. It builds, slowly, which displays a subtle dynamic that lends itself well to listenability and appreciation. Then it fades, then it is gone.
Next up we have a blend of noise, voice and keyboard synth when segues into more noise and less rhythm. This track, "Hammer F" runs into "Moscas" which is a montage of quiet sound occasionally interrupted by short intense bursts. This goes on for sometime but is cautiously non-repetitive and never boring. Mesmerizing stuff this. All fourteen plus minutes of it.
"Dr" is an abrupt turnaround. It portrays intensity right out of the gate settling into a clock like beat with thunderous synth bursts. "Mr. B" is more rhythmic. Steel drums, done electrically, tap out a bold statement. It's almost upbeat.
Finally we come to the grand statement of this collection. "Nuvem" is nearly half an hour of a journey through rough terrain. At 16:08 it breaks down momentarily then quickly regains traction.
The second half of this track is much more of the same. My only criticism is its length. It doesn't seem to have much more to say from this point on. The album ends with the wispful "Dusty Dreams"-a psychedelic stroll through backward tracking. A nice way to close up shop.
Heroin Holiday is from Portugal. This release was recorded in 2015/16 and all done live. The tape is available through Bandcamp in a limited edition of fifty. This copy is #49. The outfit has other releases on Bandcamp as well. Well worth checking out.
-- Bob Zilli