Holy Star is a visual project created by Jacob Ramsey. He recently released To Be One which is six songs and around seventeen minutes long. The songs sound more so than anything very electronic. To my ears this was the sound of modern DAW with virtual instruments working together to create captivating soundscapes.
The album starts with “Limiter” and we get some kind of AI repeating the words “the human form is limiting.” Musically, everything sounds very metallic and sterile like I was bouncing around the substrate of a computer. There was almost no warmth to the song which made it feel cold and disconnecting. There are some similarities to Burial and Oneohtrix Point Never.
Up next is “Frankenstein” which is again very cold sounding. The beat here is a little more consistent but fairly straightforward 4/4. “Manchu III” has some actual rapping against a darker and ominous soundscape.
“GraveDigger” is similar to “Frankenstein” and revolves around a straight 4/4 beat that is surrounded by colder sounding elements like white noise, warmly synths and more. “Crush 99” is a solid in the batch but ends a little too soon. Last up is “EggMan” and is the best track on the release. It’s a little more unpredictable and gets into avant garde territory.
This music is in similar territory to Oneohtrix Point Never, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Tim Hecker and similar like-minded artists. I thought there were some solid ideas here although I think he can go even deeper down the rabbit hole with experimentation which is where I think his strength lies.
I mentioned there is a cold like quality to the songs. In this case I think that was by design but still digital is well known to feel cold compared to a medium such as tape. My only critique for the artist would be to think about utilizing a tape saturation plugin. There are frequencies particularly between 150hz and 300hz which can introduce warmth which allow the listener to turn up the volume without ear fatigue. I think utilizing Low Pass Filter and removing some of the high end would have benefited the recording as well.
I enjoyed this release and it certainly points to an artist with a lot of potential. I’m excited to hear where he goes from here.
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