Old Man Diode
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Old Man Diode

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"Old Man Diode brings poetry of Rick Holland into “disco” territory"

It’s not really “disco” per say. “Off-beat,” “odd,” “quirky” and “infectious” all work to describe “Open Blue,” actually subverting the genre that is now the ancient precursor to what one might consider today’s dance music, which, in the nineties entered more intellectual territory thanks to pioneers like Aphex Twin and Autechre and other IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) artists. “Open Blue,” certainly fits into IDM and is the lead single off the up-coming collaborative album by Old Man Diode and Rick Holland by the same name (due Nov. 21 on the UK-based indie label WW Music). After working with ambient music and art rock pioneer Brian Eno (Eno collaborator/poet Rick Holland corresponds on craft – An Indie Ethos exclusive [Part 1 of 2]), Holland recently shared a video to this latest work, which also features the vocals of Beth Rowley.

I admitted to him that I do not usually get excited by follow-ups to music I was already impressed by, as cynical skepticism often takes hold and becomes a large, stiff barrier for anything to break through. In some way or another music must evolve and change or rise to another level to impress me further or in a different way from what I heard in the prior work. Color me impressed (full screen for maximal effect):

The slow-burn gorgeousness of the gravity-defying visuals of this video work well to draw the viewer in, not to mention the pretty visage of Rowley hanging off the wall with one foot. The images mesh strongly with the music, which offers a great departure from the more cerebral work of the master tunesmith that is Eno. It is not a comparison of better or weaker— easy terms to bandy about. Though delivered more musically by Rowley’s sing-song voice, Holland’s words still feel spoken and maintain an evocative, intelligent impression. Add Old Man Diode’s (aka Jo Wills) distinctly artsy dance-like sound, and you have something with the DNA required to please a cynical music snob such as myself.

I can certainly appreciate an almost deadpan delivery of dance music that seems to try to tear itself apart from the inside out. The rhythm recalls the break beats of Aphex Twin, as a steady synth pulses, providing the glue to the scattering rhythm. With the expressive coo of Rowley’s voice above it, the cake is complete. I found some nice remixes on Old Man Diode’s Soundcloud page. Here is the highlight:

Holland noted that the album is indeed collaborative, with the vocalists also participating in fulfilling the ultimate results. “I have known him [Wills] for many years now, he was one of the first people I ever wrote with specifically for music and I knew this project would be genuinely collaborative, opening the process up to all of the really special vocalists he had in mind,” Holland said via email. “We understand each other and our languages overlap enough to make working together really easy and fulfilling and also enabling each guest writer to fully engage in the writing process. Every track in the project is fully collaborative, with some startling talents.”

According to a press announcement, other collaborators featured on the album include: Chris James, lead vocalist with Stateless, Onallee from Roni Size’s drum and bass troupe Reprazent and multi-instrumentalist jazz composer and vocalist Andrew Plummer. - Indieethos

"Pure Gold with 'Still Silver"

Featured once before on Planet Notion with their first video preview, Diode and Rick Holland have returned with more bewitching brilliance. If you liked Open Blue ft. Beth Rowley, there is no doubt their new release ‘Still Silver’ will captivate you to new absorbing levels with a haunting twist. It doesn’t necessarily outshine their previous track but has further refinement, shady elegance and advanced mesmerising powers. Still Silver is intense, subtle and entrancing, with raw austerity added by Chris James’ stylistic vocals. If you appreciate powerful electronica with gloomy undertones and participation of dark magic, you’ve got it right here. It’s like the black swan of the group. It really is electrifying and undetectably infectious; the beginning, true of the song and video, is suspicious and foreboding, but when the beat slips in you are instantly hooked- drawn in by the song’s alluring prowess. What is more, the grey black context of the video adds awesome drama and atmosphere, setting the scene for something evocative.

Still Silver is full of slow drones and sustained minor notes overlaid onto a ticking, steady, intrusive beat. Vocals are softly exquisite and you are constantly left craving more from the voice after the singer has ended each phrase. Choruses exhibit Chris James’ higher range, which adds spookiness and diversity to this gripping track, whilst scaled lightening slashes of synthesized notes rip into the shyness of the emotive background music.

The track is dark, addictive and precious, with Diode and Rick Holland showcasing, what we don’t think is even yet nearing the peak of their potential. They are one magic duo, growing their ability and creativity with each masterpiece they make. Stay tuned and keep up with this fearless, talented ensemble; they are not a collaboration to take for granted. This track is out April 30th on WW Records. - Planet Notion


Open Blue Ft. Beth Rowley (WW Records 2011)
Still Silver Ft. Chris James (WW Records 2011)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Old Man Diode and Rick Holland met in the midst of a haze of London music making, smoke and petrol fumes in the first years of the new millennium. A coterie of young musicians and artists lived a blurred city life under a loose banner of fresh collaboration and partying. This was a generation that started sharing and distributing home-made demos and gigs, and music began shifting from the shiny coated wrapper towards more and more easily shared worlds. After ten years of crossing paths in bands, workshops and cross-genre collaborations OMD and Rick Holland decided to officially join forces for the ‘Diode + Rick Holland featuring…’ series, to showcase the experience of ten years of open source experimentation along with the unique inputs of a dazzling array of co-writing vocalists. Giants from the development of UK dancefloor styles join forces with lesser known voices to present a story of mixing worlds, and a fresh challenging new sound.