Clem Leek – Holly Lane

Holly Lane starts with the chime of a clock bell followed by the ticking of a clock.   This ticking remains constant through album opener ‘Mystery Moor’ creating a tension and eerieness that is a recurring feature of this record.  It’s one of the best starts to a record that I’ve heard in a long time.  The way the ticking keeps the pace of the track whilst adding to the haunting undertone is quite, quite superb.

I have read many good things about Clem Leek in the past but other than his EP ‘Snow Tales’ I’ve had no real reference point for his music.  So in many ways, I am coming at this record with fresh ears and an open mind.  His rise to stardom in the world of minimal ambient music has been quite rapid and this his debut long player, after a number of EPs, should see him firmly established as one of the country’s most talented ambient musicians.

The record, as I mentioned before, is packed with tension.  At times it’s hard going.  It’s quite an intense piece of music from start to finish.  However, Clem Leek breaks this tension beautifully with a number of perfectly located tracks, such as the  sublime ‘At The Mercy Of The Waves’, a welcome soothing relief after the intense opening track, and the ambient floating guitar of ‘Smugglers Top’ has a similar impact later on in the record.  These are such beautiful pauses in the music which allude to the work of the likes of Johann Johannsson.  In fact, there is a similar tone and feel to this record as there is to Johannsson’s recent record ‘And In The Endless Pause…’  Not that Clem Leek is not his own artist, just that his work reminds me of Johannsson’s, which is no bad thing, believe me.

‘The Burnt Home’ is a stunning closer.  Strings swell and swell and swell before coming to a genlte close.  A fine finish to a fine debut album.  Hibernate Recordings continue to impress with their roster.  Clem Leek certainly impresses with this offering.  Please check out his work here.  Hibernate here.  Enjoy.

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