Hollowphonic aka Brad Ketchen is back. He started Hollowphonic in 1999 and began melding shoegaze, ambient, rock, and electronic sounds but it has been awhile since we heard from him. In February of this year Minor Sphere Records released his long-awaited follow-up entitled Viaduct. This record brings 13 flushed out creative endeavors and surpasses his previous efforts. There is a wide variety of genres he mashes together creating a hybrid of staple sounds that reminded me of some of my favorite bands from the 90’s and early 2000’s. The Jesus and Mary Chain, Notwist, Sigur Rós, My Bloody Valentine, and Ride are a couple of names off the top of my head that had some influence on this record. There may be influences on this record but don't be fooled. Ketchen is his own beast who creates inventive sounds that become his own.
The album starts with “In Support of Living,” which is an atmospheric ambient piece that makes you feel as if you are observing the earth from a distant cloud. He douses the instruments with a hall-like reverb creating an ethereal, tranquil fog of serenity. Ketchen quickly switches gears with the second track “Absent Without Leave” and introduces a beat-heavy song with perhaps the catchiest vocal melody on the album. When the electric guitars are introduced around the two-minute mark they mask the song in a glorious veil of white noise that creates a marriage between electronic and shoegaze. Ketchen doesn't let up one bit and certifies his reawakening with “We Are Not Alone.” With guitars galore the song rocks and has stellar production value.
“In Need” creates an almost perfect symbiotic relationship between harsh white noise and sublime warmth while “Remember Forever” effectively combines nostalgia and melancholy. “Underground” has a raw sound and again showcased the proper way to implement distortion in shoegaze. The record concludes with “Endings (feat. Amy Pagnotta), which is arguably the highlight of the album. The song is an ambient achievement and is up there with some of my favorites from Windy and Carl to Auburn Lull.
Overall, there are very few lulls in this record and I have little to say about what I didn't like. The album is strongest towards the beginning and the end with the middle having a couple of weaker moments. In the end Ketchen is one of the few artists who was influenced by the sound of Creation Records and is trying to keep that sound alive and well.
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