[sic] Magazine

Liam J Hennessy – Held

Held is the latest release for Liam J Hennessy (who also records as Drops). 6 tracks just shy of the half hour mark could’ve been classed a mini album but I think this is officially an EP. Both are excellent formats for this genre of music. Uplifting acoustronica can struggle to fill a regular, modern day album’s (if there is such a thing) running length when it is solely instrumental. An EP is a better showcase and Held is a nicely varied set of tracks.

Hennessy’s USP is his field recordings. ‘Nothing new’ I hear you cry and your point would be well taken. However, look at the extent to which he has taken field recordings. The label, the ever excellent Sound In Silence included the following blurb with the review promo:_

“All tracks include field recordings and found sounds, captured with a portable microphone on trips to various places during the month each track was recorded. The sounds captured were used as the basis of the tracks, giving a nice natural sound, while the field recordings where chopped up and manipulated to make the beats. Then layers of nostalgic guitar melodies were added and filled with additional background ambience created with a mixture of guitar swells, ebow, warm synths and lots of filters and reverb.”

Now if that gave the impression that you might be hearing something of an ‘art installation’, a collage of hodgepodge elements you’d be way off. Held is naturalistic, accessible and really rather lovely. There’s a countryside vibe here, a sunny disposition. Water also comes into the reckoning and with its cover art featuring swathes of blue sky over a suburban roofline, the outdoor nature of the record is reinforced. One small pity for me was a glitch with the listening copy that I received. Opening track ‘Frozen Lights’ appeared listed as 0.02 seconds in length in my Library which just didn’t feel right. Track one was missing in fact. I had to go to Bandcamp in order to hear the album begin properly. Worth it though for the nice reflective piece ‘Frozen Lights’ is, reminiscent of yellow6.

‘Beacons’ is a very interesting track. Made in collaboration with stalwarts Good Weather For An Airstrike, ‘Beacons’ feels like a reinterpretation of Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’. (Not the main, famous) refrain but, yeah, that other part.) It isn’t literally it but the effect is very close. However the cold, motoric discipline of the krautrock legends is utterly dispensed with in favour of shimmering countryside warmth. ‘Beacons’ is not where the collaborations end either. Hennessy has previously recorded on a split release with the artist Umber who crops up again here, this time working on the track ‘Mirror Lake’ which has a whimsical nostalgic vibe akin to epic45. To cap off the collaboration chat, Absent Without Leave, Sound In Silence’s House Band, mastered the EP.

As Held nears its climax with ambience bordering upon post-rock it is already clear that this is a technically and collaboratively interesting release. I would wish to stress that it is lovely to listen to, simply – easy, accessible and rewarding. So dip in.

Editors note. As is typical for Sound In Silence releases physical copies are handmade and highly limited. The digital edition is available for the price of a cup of coffee.