It Goes It Goes, the first album from Halves in 2010, had a profound and lasting affect on me, an album I return to regularly for sanctuary and solace. Like much music that burrows into some deep place within, it brought the twin emotions of wanting more but fearing disappointment.
Although there is much other wonderful material from Halves to be gleaned from EP’s and the like going back a few years, all obtainable from their own label Hate is the Enemy, Boa Howl is their second full album, released just this July 5.
Opening track Drumhunter was an early peek a few weeks back of what lay in store, and it boded well. Although I expected to dash off a glowing tribute to the new album immediately upon receiving it, I didn’t, instead letting it seep in and take hold.
Truth be told Boa Howl (incidentally a peak in China it seems) is not an instant sort of album, and it is an album and not a series of tracks you can easily pick from at will – well not for me. It’s a dense suite of music, some more immediate than others; some tracks with a more obvious structure and approach, others more complex and experimental. But surely that’s the whole point; music that repays attention and repeated listening, gradually revealing its delights. I have a couple of work colleagues who tirelessly and tiresomely rib me for my musical preferences and for people who like their melodies and chord structures straightforward and predictable, Boa Howl ain’t for them.
But it is a constant delight -the lush arrangements, the plethora of unexpected sound combinations, the meticulous recording and production. The three Irish musicians have lavished inordinate care on this album, recorded over two weeks in Sweden on 2″reel-to-reel with analogue mixing desks – proper old school techniques.
I love the sense of euphoria than runs though everything, even the darker, more foreboding tracks; it’s an uplifting, soaring sound despite the layers and density. The vocals do recall bits of Radiohead, yes there is the distinct twang of Sigur Ros here and there, but Halves are very much their own band, distinctive, mysterious and compelling.
Gorgeous, rich, complex and occasionally difficult; it wont be troubling the playlists of Radio 1 or 2 (although perhaps 6Music!) for sure but what better recommendation could you have.