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22 March, 2005@12:00 am

      Always one to go his own way rather than join the masses, Bryan Hollon marked himself out as a unique talent with his very first record, the 2001 Dose One collaboration Circle, which took hip-hop to a genuinely anything-goes place that was as likely to employ gonzo metal and bizarre essays on the human condition as straight up beats and rhyming. Some people now call it a classic; either way, Boom Bip’s two solo records since retained his totally individual approach, presenting the listener with a collage of beats, melodies and instruments more or less beyond genre, as likely to interest Rocafella (“Roads Must Roll” is the opening soundtrack to Fade To Black, and also to a bank ad in the UK) as hugely respected electronica heads Boards Of Canada, who’ve traded remixes with him.

     This third solo joint sees Boom Bip moving further away from conventional hip-hop than ever; no samples are used, as everything is played live by
multi-instrumentalist Hollon, there are no MCs on the record, only a couple of tracks with pronounced beats, and nothing you could drop in a club without getting smacked straight off the decks.

     What you do get are a bag of pretty, simple melodies, a spread of intircate, atmospheric explorations that take in everything from bubbly Asian triphop (the cheekily vibrating “Girl Toy”) and illbient folk to Kraut- and cosmic LA rock, and one of the most beautiful songs you’ll hear this year, “The Matter (of our Discussion)”, where Hollon’s strings, auto-harp and guitar drift shimmeringly around NY songstress Nina Nastasia’s gorgeous voice.

    Hollon has made a very personal record that will not appeal to everyone; many of the slowly developing tracks here are too subtle to pull you in without careful repeated listening, and he’s at least as interested in making the listener feel uncomfortable by being eerie and menacing as he is good at conjuring a soft, joyous glow. Those willing to be drawn in, however, will soon be captivated by the tactile wonder of this immensely human music. A dreamily strange, quiet album that only gets better as it’s turned up.

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