HollowTown – All There Is
by Jack Reid
HollowTown, an intriguing solo project by a young Exonian, is somewhere between instrumental post-hardcore, drone, and even chiptune at times. To try and box this record up into a convenient little genre package and set it aside is a futile task. All that you can say for this album is that it contains electronic elements, electric guitar shredding, bassy atmospheres. All There Is defies easy classification, and that’s what makes it so delightfully unexpected. With each new track there may be no expectations of soundscape, structure, or theme, because each song, whilst cohering to the album as a whole, is unlike the last.
For example, the first two tracks on this release wouldn’t sound amiss on Cat Power’s What Would The Community Think, a testament to how the diversity of the production expertise is at play here. That’s doubly true when you consider that Watch The Skies opens up with an accomplished chiptune beat, and yet still sounds distinctly of HollowTown’s sound. It’s impressive. The final track on the album, They Won’t Save You Now, reaches the peaks of atmospheric domination, as the guitar feedback begins to fizz and distort - you’re left searching for that booming drum march for guidance. The effect is dramatic and emotive, without the melodrama that many projects from musicians as young as HollowTown are susceptible to.
There are brighter moments on the album, in tracks such as MC Jim and Debit. Grouped together as they are, these two songs serve as a kind of reprieve in the darkness that overwhelms the rest of the album; but to me, they fail to connect. HollowTown’s strength lies in constructing dense and melancholic atmospheres that soak in slowly, rather than the naked-sounding picking on Debit. By the time that the bending and distorted shreds of Smooth As Ice arrive over spacious 808 cowbells, you’re reminded why this project is so unique.
Sat next to a window, outside which is a rainy, blustery night lit by sodium streetlights, I feel that this is a record for the late evening, and for introspection. HollowTown manages to convey an impressive intensity of emotion for such a young producer, and manages to do so without the trite sentimentality that half-assed vocals or bittersweet hardcore riffs would bring. Instead, we’re presented with a genuinely innovative offering with emotional resonance. I’d recommend opening the window on a rainy night, plugging All There Is into the speakers, and letting it wash over you.