CLEM LEEK: Holly Lane (Hibernate Recordings)


Posted on Dec 2nd 2010 10:39 pm

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Clem Leek: Holly Lane

Holly Lane
Hibernate Recordings 2010
08 Tracks. 42mins52secs

Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

It’s been a rather busy year for young British musician and composer Clem Leek. In the space of just a few months, he’s had a number of releases coming out on Experimedia, Dead Pilot or his own imprint, Schedios. The latest in this flurry of releases, Holly Lane, is published on the excellent Hibernate Recordings in a limited run of just two hundred CDs, with an additional run of fifty also including an exclusive bonus three-inch CD.

A pianist with a recent MA in Music Composition, Leek expands on his instrument of predilection to incorporate a wealth of filed recordings, processed guitars and electronics. Holly Lane is a particularly haunting piece of work where all sounds and melodies are wrapped in layers of effects, their edges smoothed and blurred to the point where it is virtually impossible to identify for sure where any of them starts or ends, or what the sound sources are exactly.

The album opens with the bright chime of a clock and the relentless ticking of time, around which a slow repetitive motif circles as dense ethereal soundscapes, flanked by occasional unidentifiable noises, some vaguely resembling a distorted human voice, take shape in the distance. This very much settles the mood for the rest of the record. At The Mercy Of The Waves, which follows, is rocked by the gently ebb and flow of the ocean while vast swathes of dreamy melody, chords and sound develop into a series of drone-like forms above it.

Widening his scope further on the title track, Leek brings in a bowed electric guitar and it seems as if things may take a turn towards more abrasive textures as the guitar becomes increasingly saturated, but, caught once again in thick layers of effects, it disappear as quickly as it had materialised, leaving behind only enigmatic fragments of melody. Later on, the same guitar infiltrates Cliff Castle and seems to reverberate throughout the piece, never quite in the shape one would expect, but undeniably present. In between, Greylings Manor and Smugglers Top are sprawling constructions, the former emerging from heavily processed voices, a single piano, drenched in reverb, at first evokes Harold Budd, but as additional layers are added in the background, it is Budd’s collaboration with the Cocteau Twins which appears more relevant, while the latter develops into a lush and majestic soundscape which, once in its receding end section, reveals a seemingly endless two-note piano loop.

Leek is at his most ambitious with Mistletoe, which he builds by adding layer after layer of dense sounds, until the melody is so deeply buried that only its contours are still vaguely discernible. This piece doesn’t however quite match the elegant flourishes and emotional reach of closing track The Burnt Home, it’s autumnal feel and delicate arrangements showing Leek’s brilliant restraint and evocative touch in its best light yet.

In the forty-two minutes of this album, Clem Leek assembles a particularly impressive series of compositions which find echo in the work of Machinefabriek, Jóhann Jóhannsson or Erik Skodvin. Holly Lane is quite a complex and dense record, served by beautifully crafted melodies and sweeping soundscapes, creating a bleak and cinematic work which is at once very impressive and promising.


Clem Leek (MySpace) | Hibernate Recordings
Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

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One Response to “CLEM LEEK: Holly Lane (Hibernate Recordings)”

  1. THE 2010 REVIEW | themilkfactoryon 19 Dec 2010 at 9:01 pm

    […] A Scent Of Garmambrosia (Aagoo Records) 23. K-X-P K-X-P (Smalltown Supersound) 24. CLEM LEEK Holly Lane (Hibernate Recordings) 25. TO ROCOCO ROT Speculation (Domino Recordings Co.) 26. ANDREA […]