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Luke Abbott Holkham Drones Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

At its most hypnotic, Holkham Drones transcends genre limitations entirely.

Mike Diver 2010

Even the crudest dance music, when broken down to its base elements, is capable of moving an individual in utilitarian terms. Beats drop, limbs bop. But it’s rare that music primarily composed on a computer screen can also move a listener emotionally, striking between intentions – the invitation to dance, the opportunity to deliberate – without diluting either approach’s effect.

Norfolk-based artist Luke Abbott follows the likes of Four Tet and Aphex Twin in successfully bridging these polar opposites, encouraging discerning hedonism at one turn and existential mediation the next. The latter state is coerced by fine injections of Krautrock-styled repetitive melodies – opener 2nd 5th Heavy rides a delightfully gentle pulse wave, for example. Sirens for the Colour’s interplay between sighing drone and fading keys marks it as another piece to dream away with, rather than stomp a foot to. Closer-proper Dumb and its following unlisted ‘secret’ track offer further opportunities for reflection, one echoing Richard D James’ explorations of quasi-classical piano territories, the other a ringer for recent textural delights from Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never.

Abbott knows about switching up a few gears, too, and while much of Holkham Drones preoccupies itself with ambient shades of relative minimalism compared to the aforementioned acts-of-reference, it does occasionally get a little wild. Baalnk clangs and clatters like Chris Clark, even if it doesn’t come close to rivalling the Warp-signed sonic-mischief-maker’s predilection for synapse-scorching complexity. Soft Atttacks is a slow-build affair that peaks mid-song with some thunderous beats, and the title-track is certainly capable of quickening a step should it be filtering in via on-the-move, through-the-cans means.

At its most hypnotic, Holkham Drones transcends thoughts of genre entirely – it becomes the natural accompaniment to whatever environment the listener is in. Trains rumbling south, across the river to the suburbs; the daily office experience; skipping around the corner to pick up the ‘paper. It suits rain as well as it does shine. Of course, this all points to its constituents being entirely open to interpretation, far beyond the intentions of the author. But this is clearly no slight – Abbott’s endearing accessibility ensures that this collection will find friends from all walks, of all persuasions. And all are sure to be, one way or another, sufficiently moved.

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