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Hollydrift - This Way to Escape
CD-R (Middleton, WI)



-rest without fear
-always looking west
-colonial skyway
-overcast
-cloudy lie the fields
-lean against the foe
-evening carnivale
-where love begins
-amphenol
-distant safety of winter




Hollydrift: Mathias Anderson
Recorded 2002

Reviews:
(Indieville 10/14/2002) Two weeks down the line and I'm becoming quite addicted to this CD. Using soundbites, noises, sound manipulations, and various other experimental audio techniques, Hollydrift creates complex experimental sound sculptures that manage to spark both interest and entertainment in the listener's ears. That said, though, it's important to note that Hollydrift's music is also mortifyingly dark. Using creepy ambient electronics, frightening melodies, and eerie beats, the ten songs on this disc sound like Coil playing in a graveyard at night to an audience of restless zombies and corpses. Take "Always Looking West," for example. Starting with a minor-key synth-chord pattern, the sounds are slowly broken apart, making way for a bizarre number-station sample and then an onslaught of decaying chant vocals and dilapidated grunge atmospherics. As time elapses, the sounds are slowly pared down and in comes the synth-chords again, this time sounding more eerie and distorted than before. Gradually, the track comes down, ending in a bizarre, repeated dialtone sound. "Cloudy Lie The Fields," meanwhile, is an almost seven-minute track that lays various jarring sounds over an electronic ambiance, creating a perfect mixture of audio stew to carry you into a warped trance. Halfway through, various echoing sounds of industrial appliances are introduced into the track, making for a surreal agglomeration of mechanical noises that remind you about how machine-based our world is becoming. While Hollydrift's music may require a relatively large attention span to fully enjoy, there is no denying that This Way To Escape is an extremely dark, potent album of experimental electronic music. And though other sound artists are busy composing glitchy symphonies of sound and minimalist audio art, Hollydrift instead injects us with his own brand of dark, sample-ridden noise concoctions. Perhaps I'm the only one saying this, but I have no trouble stating that This Way To Escape is one of 2002's most enjoyable experimental albums. 90% - Matt Shimmer

(Komakino 12/23/2002) Everything here sounds experimental, extremly dark drones with noise control, trails of black lights of 8o's new-wave/industrial (Amphenol), , sort of ambient electronic Music, one-man factory, Mathias Anderson, - some episodes of a whispered male sung on glitchy samples layers, mixing blurry singsongs and surreal tv commercial tunes too (hear Colonial Skyway, real media file). Phasers, hallucinogenic, anxious trance, all themes not new for Public Eyesore rec, a real guide, one more time (browse komakino for more), in experimental alternative Music. Coil mixed to a space trip? Very good alchemy of noise indeed. - Paolo Miceli

(Eld Rich Palmer no. 12) Remember your first reaction to the opening of Coil's 'Musick to Play in the Dark vol. 1'? To say one was 'impressed' would be an understatement. 'This Way to Escape' is quite similar in this respect, though it fails to be so overwhelming. Its very first minutes, however, are truly memorable. The further you explore the album, the more a feeling of pleasant surprise grows on you. Hollydrift do have something in common with the latest incarnation of Coil that is a hallucinatory marriage of noise and esoteric ambient (at least live). The band doesn't see any of the two aesthetics as separate entity, they rather regard them as means to evoke a third dimension of music that is neither of the two. The dynamism of the sonic frenzy (a great deal of loops!) seems to fan the impression of your communing with a really haunting music. Out of the whirl of noises and cracks tunes and voices from the distant past (the pre-WW2 times or the beginnings of rock'n'roll) emerge. Unfortunately, violently as the project entered my consciousness, its momentum slows down in the end of the album. Hollydrift abuse samples of various monologues which, even though they bring the contents vital for the idea of the album, fail to constitute an interesting sound material, despite being treated and manipulated. Luckily, 'This Way to Escape' is rounded off with an icy hurricane of white noise, which seems a nice conclusion of so surreal an album like this. Have you I mentioned the excellent quality of the production? All in all, seeing it's a project I've never heard about before, I can be but satisfied. Recommended! - Krzysztof Sadza

(Touching Extremes) Pretty much a song collection, but - what kind of songs? I heard three or four major influences in this strange but enjoyable work: David Bowie's vocalism, Van Dyke Parks' eccentricity, B-movie electronics and - most of all - Mayo Thompson/Red Crayola overall smell. Some of the tracks (like "Rest without fear") stand out, being really excellent, oblique and involving; all of them are guitar based. I liked this record! It has a coherence that makes you forget about the few flaws and it's full of smile-inducing moments, which is a decisive plus in my book. Bravo, Mathias! - Massimo Ricci

(Almost Cool) If This Way To Escape is any indicator, Mathias Anderson didn't have what most would probably consider a happy year. While he's always made music that is more uneasy than easy listening, his newest batch of 10 songs is even darker and more secluded than his previous In These Days Of Merriment. It's 52 minutes of subtle drones, noise, and sound samples, and it hits you like a negative 30 degree windchill. It's only late summer, but this is definitely winter music. In addition, it also sounds a bit more angry. The opening track "Rest Without Fear," starts with the slightly-warbled sample of a bubbly music-survey recording, which sounds like it was cut directly from a phone-poll in which boy bands and teeny-bopper hits were the narrow choices for the future listening public. As the sample becomes more and more distorted, eventually it drops out, replaced by a haunting surge of panning noise. It isn't at a deafening volume, but as other subtle layers are added to it all, it becomes an eerie mechanical stew of machine-like factory output wrinkled with the occassional static. Just when you think things are going to get happier (as with the chiming, almost loungey opening of "Always Looking West"), the reality is shaken loose and chopped-up, sending you back down into a spiralling swirl of dronescapes. As with his other releases, Anderson seems very fond of using absolutely twisted samples of both spoken word and obscure music and revels in the pitch-bent sound of what sounds like a reel-to-reel playing at slightly different speeds. The different samples on "Cloudy Life The Fields" are all strung together in such a way that most listeners will simply find it gut-wrenching. With a vocal chorus, mechanical noises, and other buzzes and pings running at warped intervals, it's like hearing a carwreck played in slow motion, back and forth just before the actual collision. You expect a big bang, but it never happens, just leaving you with a woozy, reeling feel. There are a couple moments where the album seems to crack a smile, as on the repeating, somewhat bizarre samples at the beginning of "Evening Carnivale," but even that track drifts into a hazy sheen after the subconcious samples at the outset. There's no doubt that Anderson is refining his production as he continues working, but he's piled on things so heavily in most places with this release that it sometimes suffocates under its own weight. Not heavy as in metal, simply heavy sound. Fans of Coil and Boyd Rice will probably find compelling things here, but otherwise you'd best steer clear or get stir-crazy. - Aaron Coleman

(Dream no. 3) Choice samples, and good choices in general. A song/sound suite. Ten varying tracks with an abiding morose commonality. Thick waves of haze and static, frostbitten fingers, icicle stars. Murmuring vocals intone overheard but unheeded words, the machinery runs on and on in warm corridors of illumination and motion. Sputtering arrhythmic in rhythmic, scattered filigree and remnants of wreckage, incorporating a wide range of found sounds and field recordings. Post apocalyptic psychic regurgitation free floating in space; last signals from lost confused planet earth flickering out - George Parsons

(Aural Innovations no. 23) Hollydrift is a solo project from Wisconsin based Mathias Anderson. Anderson creates sound collage works that utilize minimalist sound patterns but also incorporate lots of varied sounds, voice samples and melodies. Anderson's collages are indeed just that... there's lots happening with multiple layers of sounds and samples and continually evolving themes. But the result is by no means a disorganized glom. Anderson excels at creating somber but oddball environments that give the listener much to focus on and at all times seems coherent and determined in his path. The disc opens with one of my favorites, "Rest Without Fear", which paints a mechanical factory world that brings to mind Metropolis or a noisier version of the Residents Mark Of The Mole. Machinery sounds and phased industrial wind tunnel waves are combined with somewhat melodic tones to create a sound collage world that is very dark, but more melancholy than eerie or frightening. Dig that ghostly "Rock A Bye Baby"! Tripping through subsequent tracks I was treated to all manner of minimal electronic patterns, voices from the spirit world, church bells, noise textures, loads of strange voice samples from ghostly moaning/chanting to an old Lennon Sisters styled song (that got me chuckling). Another highlight track is "Lean Against The Foe" which consists of strange narrations, the sounds of an auction, acid trip church choirs, and a melody that reminds me of the end theme from some apocalypse flick. "Where Love Begins" is yet another standout that opens with lush symphonics, though the workings of the factory quickly kick in, winding down to a slow idle rumbling that last a few moments until the various drills and saws and conveyor belts fire up. It soon transitions to a strange but peace alien theme and just keeps going from there. While this may sound a bit all over the place, rest assured that Anderson does an impressive job of making his frequent transitions seamless and cohesive. An enjoyable 52 minutes for the discerning sound art fan. - Jerry Kranitz

(All Music Guide) After two EPs and one full-length album on his own label Cuba Club Media, Hollydrift (aka Matthias Anderson) released This Way to Escape on the Omaha-based do-it-yourself CD-R imprint Public Eyesore. It represents a big leap forward: it sounds better, it hits harder and it lasts longer. The latter point may be the most important here. Previous efforts were short -- even the full length In These Days of Merriment clocked in only a few seconds over 36 minutes. Hollydrift¹s recipe of antiquated communication sounds (shortwave, Morse code, etc.) and ambient electronics worked well in short duration, but could he produce something worth lasting longer? The answer is yes. In the course of its 53 minutes, This Way to Escape never becomes redundant. The focus is still on communication -- even miscommunication. From telephone survey rants to speeches about how to address an audience, from the ghostly broadcasts of number stations to astronaut conversations, the music constantly features a parallel discourse about Man¹s visceral need to communicate. Most pieces are made of such samples, a simple rhythm track and ethereal synthesizers and electronics. At times they offer captivating sound associations and collages. At others they lack focus, moving around aimlessly to the point where you have to repeatedly glance at your CD player¹s display to know when one piece ends and the other starts. ³Amphenol² takes a different approach; this one comes closer to a song, strongly influenced by Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, and Coil. Despite its occasional flaws, This Way to Escape is stronger than any previous Hollydrift release. It is less about attitude, more about content. - François Couture

(AmbiEntrance 10/2002) Churning audio-collages of music, mayhem and mystery from Mathias Anderson, a.k.a. Hollydrift. In opening number, Rest Without Fear, a chipper "public service announcement" from the Radio Industry seeps into a continually-shifting veil of shimmer-jangle-blur of surging radiance which includes some eventual choral deformations. Always Looking West (7:04) recombines belltones, deep symphonics, buzzy synthchords, breathy moans and other never-predictable entities, ending with a cyclic bleeping pattern. Overcast (1:24) sounds more like a broadcast from the eye of a hurricane with its powerful wind currents. Skewed and melted, dense strands waver through Cloudy Lie The Fields, laced with demonic-sounding vocal utterances, and later, female murmurs. Plenty of media-speak samples come from a wide variety of sources, to be dropped into the everchanging tableau, most notably in Lean Against The Foe. Following few spoken mutations, Where Love Begins emits a mechanically throbbing fogbank which is infiltrated by more-musical shimmers and crackling radio-voices. Brooding with dark energy, Amphenol is the most song-like track, operating in a fuzzed-out NIN-sorta vein. Nicely put-together blend of construction-and-chaos, if sometimes not the easiest of listening. - David J. Opdyke

(Aiding & Abetting no. 235) Hollydrift places all sorts of noise (much of it distorted) in its collages. Do the pieces all make sense? Not at first listen. But they sure do sound cool. An awful lot of what Hollydrift does sounds like it is realized on a keyboard, which is then manipulated (most likely on a computer, I'd guess) and assembled into a decidedly broad canvas. Most folks who specialize in washes of electronic distortion hide things within the white noise. Hollydrift often hides the white noise behind more coherent sounds. This isn't a small distinction. These pieces are much more approachable than yer Raison D'Etre or other somesuch. Flash back to the start. At first listen, these pieces are a bit confusing. But after a couple passes, the entire project begins to make sense. With this sort of music, it's always very important to consider the entirety of a piece. Hollydrift insists that the listener consider the full album before passing judgment. One more reason why this puppy blows my socks off. - Jon Worley

(Fishcomcollective) You know you want to expand your mind. C'mon, you know you do. Go ahead .... OK, fine, I'll let you in on what the hell I'm talking about. I'm yakking about this great little CD called "This Way to Escape" from one-man experimental ambient noise artist, Hollydrift. I enjoy ambient noise CDs, they're great for relaxing, and this is one of the best I've come across thus far. You will easily be set adrift on the soundscape sea of soft white noise and the murmur of sampling that greet your aural senses. Like floating on a boat in a sea of relaxing sound, "Escape" presents you with a perfect reason to abandon conventional thinking and embrace the possibility of beauty in so-called non-musical forms. Hollydrift is here plainly shown to be a master of this type of audio experimentation by creating near perfect compositions of sound manipulation. I am in awe of Hollydrift's music (yes, I'll dare to call it such for it is as enjoyable as music) for the sounds themselves leave me in awe. Beautiful. - Kristofer Upjohn

(Neozine) Very surreal dark ambience and minimalism ringing as clear as a haunted church bell with a message from the outer limits (saying “Don’t be trapped by commercial brainwashing!”) A horrible siren from other far away worlds offering beautiful exotics with questionable intentions. You get peeks inside the wormholes that show ghosts of the past and gentle warnings from the future. Mostly very slow-motion, thick-deep-dark-blurry textures, with somber but intentional movement that often leads to a sound clip from an old commercial or some lost memory that thrives in the uneasiness of the situation. Icky and noteworthy warpedness. This recording sticks to you after listening like an ectoplasmic film of jittery trepidation. - C.H.C.

(Ampersand Etcetra 2002_13) Following the Public Eyesore extravaganza (2002_10) and as a foretaste of some new releases, Hollydrift (Mathias Anderson) sent me his latest release ­ the two previous were reviewed in 2001_03, 2002_02. This is longer again ­ almost an hour ­ and continues both the radio explorations of the last one [In These Days Of Merriment] while going beyond the Numbers Stations, and the playing with samples and voices. A bright woman informs us as 'Rest without fear' that out responses will be important for determining what music will be played on the local radio ­ a delightfully ironic choice for this album: as the sample fades rising and falling tones pan the sound space, interrupted by brief crackles and whooshes before an extended interlude with industrial pulses and long voices creating a stretched tonal choir, a crackle then music and a slowed song, rain crackle fades. The scene is set ­ dark tonality, industrial wastes and manipulated voices. The vocal/radio theme runs through, at times clearly but mainly as distant slowed or submerged voices we grasp to hear. In 'Always looking west' a musicality of echoed tuned percussion and tones, these break down to buzzy layers of pulse, a suggestion of voice that becomes clearer before a buzzing crackle and the voice swirls away. Percussion returns, phasers squiggles and pulsing beat, over metronome to loop pulse end. The Numbers appear in 'Colonial skyway' behind a subtly textures buzz, a sudden break into a radio spot then tones buzzes and clicks are extracted to form a music with voice tones over. A brief static wash with a train or distorted voice ('Overcast'). Voices slowed with ratchetting, dense and woozy with distant mutter, helicopters; pulse and crackle into a long fade with occasional crackle in 'Cloudy lie the fields'. Is there a Severed Heads reference in 'Lean against the foe' with a sample that recurs: a voice saying Saturday night? Anyway, the sample comes through panning pulses and a darkly light ringing tones, soft voices and pulses lead to a series of interpretable samples ­ a discussion of adolescence, an auction, a sci-fi piece ­ long elegiac organ tones. The mood continues in 'Evening carnivale', the title reflecting the layered complexity of voices, a mad incursion from the radio covering various topics, with slow tones. There is a fractured feel to 'Where love begins' as it switches through various states ­ looped fragments are rhythm and music with swelling ringtones; machine chatter to soft rumble hiss and birds; drill and whipping; orchestral eruptions with a singing background; righteous beauty sampled with phoneme pulse that travels to the end. Amazing ­ music opens 'Amphenol', and a throb, bass with a line of singing, tones, dark and confusing, even a rhythm box. And finally 'Distant safety of winter' with what sounds like a site recording, hollow and open, here and there a crash, rumbles, increasing. A hiss with the Pope in, eases to lighter tones, horns to fade. This is a bleaker and darker album that Hollydrift's previous yet no less enjoyable or attractive for that ­ the textures and tones that he conjures are densely intense and balanced. While Public Eyesore is not mainstream, it is great to see Hollydrift with a higher profile as he deserves a wide audience for his complex and yet understated soundworks. Get this ­ and the back catalogue! - Jeremy Keens

(Desideratum no. 14) collage-style recordings by madison, wisconsin's mathias anderson, who has a pretty clear vision of what he is trying to communicate with the mixture of sources he uses. including lots of radio/tv spoken word fragments, mechanical sounds, environmental captures, miscellaneous found sounds & sometimes even instruments & vocals. last year i noticed the term "melancholy electronics" in use, and certainly the melancholy portion of that term is contained in these tracks, while the electronics is less obvious, in a good way. most of the source recordings are less scarce in nature, but the way they are combined & layered achieves a unique audio art vision, with nods to other editor-composer projects such as negativland. i do not disagree with his own assessment that this music creates a destination thru context, rather than via confrontational use of volume & pained frequencies. which is not to say that this is any less disturbing, nay... much more so. special thanx once again to bryan day at public eyesore for hooking me up with this one. - Will Soderberg

(Automata) Imagine sitting alone at night in a room illuminated only by a TV. Now imagine watching an out of service channel until you hit that point just before you fall asleep. Suddenly it’s not just the sounds of static coming from the television. Displaced voices rise and fall and creepy sounds start coming from the set. Or was it from somewhere else? Are you still awake or is this a very uncomfortable dream? Soon you’re questioning not just your wakefulness, but your sanity. This is the place that Hollydrift takes you to. According to their bio, "the music of Hollydrift is non-confrontational in sound or philosophy. You will not be challenged to endure walls of noise or some arcane sonic agenda while listening to Hollydrift." While this is technically true, it hardly makes for easy listening. Each element, be it droning synths, glitchy noises or an eerie bit of found sound, is carefully integrated into an experimental collage so as to achieve maximum effect. It draws you in, and then once you’re inside, your mind is torn between the intrigue of the sounds and the uneasiness they induce. It’s sort of like a horrible accident that you find completely repulsive, but are hopeless to turn away from. The ultimate emotional effect is one of extreme unease. I’m not sure how mentally healthy it would be to listen to Hollydrift on a regular basis, but it’s a powerful and recommended auditory experience . Well worth checking out, even if you’re not normally into the more abstract side of music. - Carson Pierce

(Chain D.L.K. 4/11/2003) Hollydrift is Mathias Anderson from Middleton, WI, and "This way to escape" comes after two self-released ep's and a full-length cd. This Public Eyesore release is an intriguing cut-up of played parts (string programmings, synths, keys, etc., all quite ambient-sounding anyway), samples, found sounds, voices collages... Eerie and at times upsetting, yet maintaining an inner coherence and showing good taste and able hands in the juxtapositions and final mixdown. The PE website talks of "modern concrete music" and mentions the Hafler Trio; I'd add, on my part, Nurse With Wound and especially Coil in their Black Light District incarnation. Certainly experimental but not overtly solipsistic, with a heavy quasi-darkwave track ("Amphenol") and healthy doses of industrial ambient bruitism ("Distant safety of winter"), as if the cover roses hid glass thorns. Let's say this stands to music the way Max Ernst's surrealistic forests stand to realistic landscape paintings. - Eugenio Maggi

(Dead Angel no. 56) Hollydrift on Public Eyesore? This is a welcome development.... The third (i think) album from Mathias Anderson is a bit of a departure from his earlier work, yet still well within the parameters established early on as the core of Hollydrift's sound. Combinations of drone, found sound, electronic frippery, and the occasional hypnobeat. The main difference this time around is a thicker, generally darker sound and more emphasis on the drone elements. The attention to detail is getting pretty exacting, too -- i don't know what kind of equipment he favors these days, but this all sounds really good, clear and direct, and the drones really swing. I like the way the first song, "Rest Without Fear," opens with an amusingly appropriate sound sample and then gradually mutates into a repetitive festival of clanging drones, like machines grinding away slowly in the distance as the fog closes in and the sky grows dark. Organ-style drones that sputter to a halt, reedlike drones accompany a countdown, and then "Always Looking West" jumps off into a lingering corkscrew drone that eventually segues into "Colonial Skyway," which opens as clouds of white noise over clattering percussion and what might be horns blaring away in the background. Things get interesting when the noise abruptly turns into a sample from a station ID advertisement; as the ad fades away, the first beats of the album make their appearance -- simple, endless, hypnotic, as The Big Drone works its mojo. Like, swank, mon. "Overcast," one of the shortest tracks here, is a nice cloudburst of sound (like the blown-up sound of rain on a tin roof) that would probably get old after a while if it didn't appropriately keep things short. There's a lot happening in "Evening Carnivale," most of it chopped-up and layered chunks of found sound and samples... no inkling what it means, but the shape of sound is bent into some interesting configurations here. Beats 'n drone (and heavily reverbed vox) return for "Amphenol," which welds a tiki-tiki beat on a cowbell (or something similar) to vast acres of drone for a background of tidal motion that's nice in its fuzziness. "Distant Safety of Winter" is something of a companion piece ot "Colonial Skyway," and might even use chunks of the same raw material -- more clouds of sound, more sounds that may be from heavily blown-up audio, field-recordings run amok and greatly abused, and piles of noise drone. Another winner from both Hollydrift and Eyesore. The cover is lovely too.... - RKF


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