Category Archives: Uncategorized

Limited vinyl edition!

A little while ago, someone approached me via Bandcamp to ask if I was interested in having a limited vinyl edition of my EP in a cold cottage, in the dirt, in outer space – a collection of archival tunes that I released for one of the earliest Bandcamp Fridays in 2020. After some convincing that this was a genuine thing, I decided to join in, and now this beautiful object is a reality!

So huge thanks to JR from Dead Currencies, a new boutique label from Nashville, Tennessee, for including this EP in their first batch of releases. You can order it from the Dead Currencies website or from Bandcamp above.
It's limited to 25 lathe-cut transparent vinyl copies, so you might want to get in quick! Comes with lots of goodies and looks gorgeous.

New thing

I'm playing a secret little gig this Sunday, and while practising I recorded this improv, which starts off almost pretty and gets more demented as it goes.
Mostly cello through Fishman pickup through Line 6 DL4 pedal, but there's some stereo Ableton Echo biz in there at times.
This is an accurate depiction of some of what I do live, although the live laptop processing tends to be more prominent a lot of the time.

raven · against it

Two naïve playthroughs

I've been working on a deep connection between my electronic processing and live performances; something that's happening in conjunction with my work with Tangents as well as solo.
Part of this is building up some sets of effects chains in Ableton that I can control live, through foot and hand controllers, but often these are triggered on and then only manipulated at times – not quite what Keith Fullerton Whitman called "Playthroughs", and not particularly revolutionary in itself, but close enough, and a statement of intent.

It's taking some time for this stuff to settle, and there are pieces I've been tossing around in live sets for some time now which are slowly coalescing (each performance being an improvisation through a set of known effects patches).
Last year during lockdown I was asked by Michel Banabila to contribute a work at short notice for a compilation raising funds for Yemen, a country that's continually suffering horribly from civil war but somehow doesn't get enough international attention. I sat myself down and quickly recorded two "naïve playthroughs" to my laptop's drive, forcing myself to stop editorialising, not worry about out of tune notes here and there, and let something happen. Both tracks are imperfect, but honest and full of yearning, and maybe the line between deliberate glitches and imperfections, and between aching slides and misplaced fingers is hard to find!

Michel kindly took the first track for his compilation, which he titled To Yemen With Love الى اليمن بكل الحب:

Then this year I was asked by Mike Nigro to contribute a track to a compilation he was putting together of experimental Australian artists, having come to Australia from the US only around 2 years ago. He's collected a phenomenal selection of local artists, and I'm honoured to be part of it. I have been stupidly busy but realised I had the twin of the other naïve playthrough, and Mike has included it on Undercurrents:

You can also hear some of the live processing ideas I've been working on lately in this recent video of Tangents, recorded at the phenomenal Phoenix Central Park in June, just before everything stopped (again).

Rutger Zuydervelt / Machinefabriek collaboration

In 2019 Rutger Zuydervelt, aka Machinefabriek, contacted me to ask if I would be interested in recording some cello for a film soundtrack he was preparing.
I'm a big fan of Rutger's work and got to work recording a series of ideas based on a concept Rutger had in mind, inspired by Joke Olthaar’s ideas about her film and what its music could embody.
These recordings were re-edited and combined with Rutger’s electronics, into a half hour piece that served as a proposed base for the movie’s soundtrack. Compared to the first track on this album, BERG (score sketch) is a much more dynamic and (relatively) dramatic affair. Further in the working process of the film, it was decided that the music needed another direction – a more minimal approach was needed, an approach that was more about adding texture and very subtle colour, and blending seamlessly with Hugo Dijkstal’s mix of nature sounds. Luckily, the piece I did with Rutger is preserved here on this album, because as a listening experience it’s a very welcome inclusion to this album.

The CD itself contains an edit of the final score, but I've got my collaboration digitally on my Bandcampm where I also have a limited number of CDs for sale for Australian listeners.

Find out more about the film BERG here.
Richard Allen at A Closer Listen reviewed the album. "The cello conveys its own narrative of struggle, leaving the ending wide open: surrender or survival, failure or success. Hollo bestows an additional layer of nobility on the hikers as they set out on the grand adventure. But the cello also communicates melancholy, as may be felt when one encounters the vastness of a great terrain and reassesses one’s own importance."

raven remixes No Names!

A few years ago my dear frenemies Stephen & Michael formed a band, based around shouting a lot, hammering away at guitar & bass, and adding amps and drums on computer. No Names are fucking great, and as I share with them a near-worshipful admiration of all things JK Broadrick, the Godflesh vibes are close to my heart.
So when – for the second time, mind you – they invited me to remix them, I couldn't say no. When I asked them for the lyrics, they were a little shocked – but it forced me to carry through the idea I'd had.
The raven "re-fake" of their excellent song "Fake Faith" is a near-complete rebuild of their preacher- (and dare I say politician)-baiting song, in which the industrial metal riffs and martial drums are replaced with pitched-down (and up) piano, mangled cello, programmed beats and chopped breakbeats, and – yes – my own vocals.
I'm really fucking proud of this song. Massive thanks to Stephen Owen & Michael Ritchie for getting me to do this, and supplying an inspiring original for me to destroy.
Stream & purchase it now, along with the great originals and a bunch of other great remixes. I'm track 5.

Two new releases on Bandcamp

Very pleased to be releasing two albums on Bandcamp for "Bandcamp Day #2". As you may know, on the 1st of May 2020 Bandcamp are, for the second time, waiving their revenue share in support of musicians in the time of COVID-19. They will do this again on the 5th of June and 3rd of July.
This is mainly a catalyst for me to complete and release some archival material, so here they are…

in & out of fashion was originally recorded for an interactive installation that (for reasons beyond everyone's control) never saw the light of day. The 5 tracks are all at the same tempo (146bpm), and I've included a continuous mix as the preferred way of listening through.
The beats and heavy basslines draw on dubstep and footwork, juxtaposed with both melodic, acoustic cello lines and processed cello.

in a cold cottage, in the dirt, in outer space compiles a selection of archival tracks from 2009-2013. The first piece was recorded late one night in a cottage in upstate New York – released here with a little bit of post-production shininess.
The second was improvised live at UTS in between a beautiful set by Gail Priest with glasses of water and feedback, and a set by Alon Ilsar with his revolutionary AirSticks – they top & tail this piece.
The third is cello processed live through AudioMulch many years ago, and the fourth is a contemplative piece for cello & piano, an old & dusty thing for which I have quite a bit of affection.

Music Over Distance

Very pleased to have a track on this wonderful new compilation, put together by Richard Adams of The Declining Winter. I'm collaborating here with the amazing Katie English aka IsnajDui. The idea is for musicians in COVID-19 isolation to collaborate across different households (or indeed continents). And it's a fundraiser for PPE for NHS workers.

It's an awesome collection featuring various Hood alumni along with Richard – his brother Chris aka Bracken, Andrew Johnson aka a new line, related, Craig Tattersall in various aliases, and then fellow Aussie Jason Sweeney, Benoît Pioulard, The Leaf Library, Cédric Pin & Glenn Johnson of Piano Magic and many others…

I was blown away to see this review in The Quietus, which chose ours as one of the standout tracks:

‘Without Dwelling’ is just under six minutes of muted synths, harrowing strings and dissonant flute. It really hammers home what living in isolation feels like. There is strident paranoia that permeates it. It’s that feel you get every time you leave the house for some exercise or a quick trip to get essential food. A thousand eyes behind curtains, judging you. However, there is also something warming to ‘Without Dwelling’. As with real paranoia you can cast if off and realise that no one is judging you, they just want to say hello outside in the open like we used to.

play through you

For my recent performance at Sydney's City Recital Hall I devised a new live setup which is something I've had in mind for a long time.
With a Keith McMillen SoftStep (gen 1) as a quite powerful, customisable USB MIDI controller, and a simple Roland EV-5 expression pedal plugged into it, I'm controlling a range of effects and processing in Ableton. I can broadly mimic the typical free-looping in my Line 6 DL-4 pedal, but I can also loop in time with the Ableton session (and in Tangents I'm looping in time with the rest of the band).

In this track, I'm more interested in a freer, looser improvisation. I've got a beautifully organic tape delay using Live 10's new Echo device, and I have two copies of the classic Granulator II plugin from Robert Henke, among other effects, and a looper that's set to reduce the previous layers by a percentage each time a new overdub is added, so they slowly fade out.

New raven release – split cassette on Tandem Tapes!

Proud to have a new release available.
It's released on the excellent Tandem Tapes label, run by Aussie musician Morgan McKellar, currently based in Jakarta. Morgan has been releasing amazing split cassettes from noise and experimental artists for the last year or more, and it's cool to be part of the family! On the other side is a lovely piece of classicist drone from my friend Talbert Anthony.

Both tracks are dark and slow-moving: one tracked in Ableton based around a loping beat and meandering piano, the other freer, with processed buzzing amp noise slowly giving way to acoustic piano and cello.

reviews round-up

My 2017 album the night is dark, the night is silent, the night is bright, the night is loud received a number of reviews in some unexpected places.

I was super pleased that one of Australia's best music writers, Kate Hennessy, selected the album for her Music you missed Guardian Australia column covering the last quarter of 2017. I love these words so much I'll quote most of the review:

Solo, he adds piano, laptop and a loop pedal to the perambulations of his trusty cello, and the variety of these compositions is pretty incredible, as though a whole cast were involved. It’s seamless, too, best evidenced when fluttering breaks only briefly rupture the tranquil surface of Begin.

Parallels are lazy but in this case, it’s illustrious company. There is The Necks on the portentous plucks of Lockstep; The Dirty Three with a dash of Arthur Russell in the rocky, amplified strings of Copra.

The song Descent does just that, sending you down into a mongrel of free jazz percussion, icy synth and a room-clearing buzz of power electronics. Untethered, meanwhile, slips under your guard by stitching together the residue of emotion that clings to fading notes.

I was very pleased to appear in the Monthly Music Wrap for October 2017, by another of our best music writers, Anwen Crawford: "Hollo’s primary instrument is cello, which he plays expansively, sometimes as a string instrument and at other times like percussion, looping the various sounds so that the album is full of darkly melancholic string melodies and assertive rhythms."

A very interesting review at Sputnik Music talks about the the album's effect on the listener's perception of time, and in summing up says: "I could reinstate that there are moments of menace lodged inside moments of earnestness, or that certain images seem to burn themselves into my retinae as I listen, but the truth is that The Night Is Dark, The Night Is Silent, The Night Is Bright, The Night Is Loud is as disorienting as it is stunning."

Sydney Scoop said "This collection of ominous and restless pieces is like bottled darkness", and helpfully described it thus: "Ostensibly a neo-classical release, but heavily influenced by ambient and industrial music, folk, and even breakbeat electronica".

Prog site It Djents singles out a few tracks: "The pacing is again marvellous, giving even the most jarring parts of 'descent' enough room to make the listener thoroughly acquainted with them; even the ending, in which the track collapses in on itself again, is tastefully and deliberately orchestrated".

The lovely folks at Norman Records have given it a write-up too: "Cello unravels as electronics hover, then flutter just when you want them to, but not necessarily as expected".

And over at a closer listen, we're told that "The album is a primer on what a cello might do when no one is looking, and how raw its notes can become".