With Image Version, holymachines approaches his art through a method, which he refers to as “genre observation”. Rather than catting influences wholesale from contemporary culture, he absorbs smaller fragmentary snatches, deconstructing them and reassembling them as bold new sonic gestures. This process results in sonic artefacts that meander between ambient, noise and collage.
Layered with Aquiet’s powerful abstracted visuals, Image Version takes us to a world where the realms of reality, virtual reality and simulation collide, conjuring feelings of digital alienation and wistfully evoking the fragmented reality we experience on a daily basis. It’s a work that addresses the encroachment of digitisation on nature, our realities, and even our basic humanity. Much of the album’s adventurous, yet somehow familiar listening plays on this tension and plays out best when experiencing the work as a whole.
The opening track ‘Ecology’ sets the tone powerfully by commencing with a wall of white noise. Fragmented glimmers of sampled beats struggle against this barrage before gently phased ambient synths swell in. It epitomises the constant tension on the album: melody, harmony and order are juxtaposed against a patchwork of flickering textures and static; the beauty lies in between.
This collage approach to composition is explored further in ‘Yt’ with its vaporized pads, simulated chimes and nervous melodies colliding with crunchy percussion. The melodic material holymachines does offer us throughout the album is mostly mysterious and nihilistic, almost like beautiful shells of melody, recalling the groundbreaking work of contemporaries such as Autechre, Oneothrix Point Never or Jan Jelinek.
The first tangible glimpse of rhythm arrives with second track ‘Golden Days, Bold Oblique’. A skittering and warped synth provides the sublime backbone of the piece. It’s woven through with a fragmentary percussive thudding that eschews any rigid timing. More trembling electronic noise joins the fray; hypercompressed, half-digital and shiny. Then the loop disappears altogether and leaves a hollow metallic ringing in its wake. Ominously, this sound slowly loses all its nuanced treble frequencies and becomes empty – endlessly ringing with a faint nuance of hope.
Title track and album closer ‘Image Version’ is a ten-minute epic, which sees the return of many colours, and concepts that appear during the 44-minute duration of the album, wondrously drifting through a detailed landscape of granulated samples that hint at the fragmentised reality the album reflects. Percussive tones and bells fade in, melodies build up, but eventually falter, chords and clusters try to survive against warped static, oversaturated with information. The splintered track rings discordantly like a Picabia painting rearranged into sound.
Image Version is not an easy Album. It is a mind-bending journey, glancing at ambient music through a broken lens and stripping it of its comforting qualities. Paired with Aquiet’s visuals, it’s a bold and relentless exploration into the essence of our reality and aims to relay this scattered nature right back at you.