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Luke Abbott – Holkham Drones review

We’ve been swimming in Luke Abbott’s debut album since it landed on our desks a few weeks back. As one would expect from a member of the Border Community family, it’s a record steeped in melody, gentle yet strong, perfect for at-home headphone escapism. Abbott is a master of kosmische, and on Holkham Drones he creates a lush, richly textured soundscape, with similarities to be found in the work of contemporaries James Holden, Allez Allez and Four Tet. It’s utterly relaxing, but never succumbs to the level of mere background music. A distinct lack of crisp instrumentation creates an overall sense of haziness, a feeling heightened by the album sleeve which shows the artist and title name rewritten in several layers – so your eyes have to constantly readjust – while the artwork is equally indecipherable.

The music itself is like falling under the spell of one long hallucination. Abbott drenches the glacial beats on opening track “2nd 5th Heavy” beneath a twinkling key melody and hypnotic synth washes. It isn’t until “Whitebox”, three tracks in, that we are snapped out of this narcosis, with an electro swirl that takes us into “The Sky Was Pink” (Holden remix) territory. “Trans Forest Alignment” is submerged beneath a sea of melodic keys and atmospheric analogue synths, and it, like everything here, is assembled using the most delicate of sounds. The moody, aquatic vibe of “Sirens For The Colour” lingers long in the memory, as does “Brazil”, which shines like a beacon of hope, while the ambient fuzz of “Dumb” offers one of the album’s most moving moments, and brings Holkham Drones to twinkling close. This is one to cherish.

Aaron Coultate