Best Albums of 2019: Hollie Kenniff ‘The Gathering Dawn’

The Gathering Dawn (n5MD)

There are loads of electronic musicians making ethereal minimalist drone music, but how many of them can sing? Canadian-American artist Hollie Kenniff can, and beautifully. Her debut solo album The Gathering Dawn marries her reverberating wordless vocals with expansive, airy beds of synths, samples and rippling guitars, played mostly in warm major keys. Without her voice I’d call some pieces impressionism (“The Timing of Glaciers”), others more personal (“Soft Pulse”). But curiously, her vocals give all these tracks a liturgical or devotional quality, as if by happy accident. I wonder if this unexpected dimension comes from the fact that this music is entirely her own creation, whereas most ambient in this style samples the voice of someone other than the artist. As a consequence there’s no distance here, it’s completely organic, and the result is a kind of sacred music that’s unpretentious and real.

Best Albums of 2019 Reviews Index

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