Album ReviewsReviews

Review: Ian Holloway - Passing Through Occasionally (2011)

artist: Ian Hol­lo­way
release: Passing Through Occa­sion­ally
format: CD-R
year of release: 2011
label: Phono­spheric
dur­a­tion: 37:00

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

One of Ian Hol­lo­way’s latest drone works was released on Adrian Shenton’s Phono­spheric label recently. It is one of those longer one-piece suites in which a sound­scape can be explored extens­ively and at a leis­urely pace.

In terms of mood, Passing Through Occa­sion­ally reminds me of Itto’s Sound on an Empty Road, in which Hol­lo­way was also involved, because of the com­bin­a­tion of dark drones and treated envir­on­mental record­ings on the one hand, and slow-mov­ing, tent­at­ive melod­ies on gui­tar and synth on the other. To me, the music describes a sol­it­ary jour­ney through some nat­ural envir­on­ment, where the sen­sa­tions from out­side (plants, insects, weather) are some­how amp­li­fied and abstrac­ted at the same time. This con­trasts the open­ness of the out­doors exper­i­ence with a sort of men­tal claus­tro­pho­bia imposed by the altered sen­sa­tions.

It is an effect I’ve felt in more of Hol­lo­way’s com­pos­i­tions and it is always an intriguing listen­ing exper­i­ence when you are in the mood for some­thing intro­spect­ive and slightly mys­ti­fy­ing. So, if you’ve been in one of his worlds before and would like to return, or fancy a first jour­ney here, this pleas­antly priced but highly lim­ited CD-R is a very fine place to start.

Reviewed by O.S.


1. Passing Through Occa­sion­ally (37:00)

Itto is a pro­ject of Neil Rowl­ing (Goat­boy) and Ian Hol­lo­way (Psychic Space Inva­sion). This album is one long track of dark dron­ing ambi­ent, with some field record­ings and instru­ments thrown in. I found this album a bit tough to get into, but it turns out to con­tain a subtle beauty that does show itself after attent­ive listening.The track starts with some very deep layered drones, and this con­tin­ues on dur­ing the first third of the length. More and more sounds of dif­fer­ent fre­quen­cies drift in dur­ing this sec­tion, provid­ing vari­ation. About halfway, a soft gui­tar melody breaks through the drones, which cre­ates a more peace­ful atmo­sphere than the rather dark begin­ning. Towards the last quarter of the track, night­time atmo­spheres and slightly noisy waves take over the lead, send­ing the track back into cold dark­ness.

This album requires a quiet envir­on­ment, head­phones and attent­ive listen­ing, oth­er­wise it won’t be able to show its mer­its. That makes it per­haps a bit lim­ited in its scope, because its not as inter­est­ing as back­ground music as some other ambi­ent. How­ever, if you’re a patient listener and a lover of deep obscure sound­scapes, this is a very fine release. The real sound of an empty road can be inter­est­ing enough in the right cir­cum­stances, but this musical inter­pret­a­tion is surely worth your atten­tion.