Aaron Frank still doesn’t like witch house.
Alongside Bristol and the Seattle, over the last several decades, Manchester has made a name for itself churning out perpetually gloom and doom artists like Joy Division and The Smiths. Understandably, there’s something intensely mystifying and gloomy about Holy Other’s With U EP. Add that to the fact that the Mancunian has spent much of his adult life in places like Berlin and Gothenberg, and you get an idea of what sort of tones you get on his new four-song EP from London-based Tri Angle Records. Isolation. Cultural alienation. Minimalism. Prozac prescriptions gone ignored. Etc.
Like many, I was first introduced to Holy Other through a fan-made video that synced the DMT-inspired sequence from Enter The Void almost perfectly with the mellow, pulsating tone of “Yr Love”. The theme of reincarnation and out-of-body experiences from the movie matched up so well with the song that several months later I heard the term “Holy Other” described by philosopher Terrence McKenna as a godly or angelic type figure, often brought on by hallucinations. That particular theme also comes and goes throughout the record, but what seems meant to be highlighted is the breakdown of physical human interaction engendered by modern technology.
After all, the artist himself, who refuses to verify his real identity, said in a recent interview that he looks to his music as a “challenge to make something truly personal.” And speaking from experience, there really isn’t a more personal experience than moving to a new city or traveling all alone. For all the assumptions and guesses as to what this album might be about thematically, sonically it’s clearly about bridging that gap between humanity and technology.
Eventually the vocals start taking the burden off the bass and synths and start laying a melodic groundwork of their own. “With U” and the standout “Touch,” both emit a clear yearning for companionship, something that’s obviously more sexual on “Touch,” which is also probably only track on the EP that could comfortably squeeze in to a club DJ set. That’s certainly a compliment, seeing as it’s rare that we hear something that cohesive and fulfilling. If you don’t like it, just wait a few months.