Seagate e.p. – Al Holland (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

It isn’t always a groove or a lyric that hooks you into a song, sometimes it can be far subtler than that. On the first spin at least, the most immediate and beguiling aspect of Seagate for me  was its textures. There is something really artful  in the way a whole range of different styles and sounds have been threaded together into a sort of slick and melancholic pop. Note, melancholic but not maudlin. It has inherent tinges of memory, nostalgia and reflection but only as subtle details, a background vibe, rather than as its main raison d’être. And it is Al Holland’s ability to take various musical threads – shimmering dreamscaping, folky delicacy, electronic motifs and gentle, cinematic pop -and weave them so deftly that they create gorgeous musical vistas that is the real charm of the music.

In an age where bravado and bombast seem to be the order of the day for most mainstream music, here is a collection of songs that takes the opposite route. There is plenty going on instrumentally but it is all reduced to subtle and supple sounds which often seem to hover in the middle distance rather than attempt to make a scene. There is an art to the less is more approach and that art is knowing just which bit of “less” to use and when and where to put it. And the approach here is rather than merely make a minimal record by heavily editing and leaving gaps in the songs, instead to weave everything tightly together, allow one sound to sit in the natural breathing space between another.

From the funky opener Gravitational Waves, Seagate covers a lot of ground. First World Problems is a slightly jazz-infused paean to the self-absorbed nature of the modern world, Slip and Slide is a Bon Ivor-ish indie folk ballad, all cascading acoustica and hazy vocals and Paradise Beckons is a slow burning, haunting piece which already feels like the play out music to one of your favourite movies, one where you sit through the credits  just to list to in its entirety.

Seagate is a gem. Unassuming and restrained and it is Al Holland’s desire to make music with a commercial edge but which still feels like your own best kept secret that should ensure that his name is soon on the lips of discerning music fans and mainstream indie-pop pickers alike.

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