After cutting his teeth as a member of indie luminaries Tarentel and Thingy, Kenseth Thibideau decamped to his home studio, where, with the aid of Dilute's Marty Anderson and the Court and Spark's Wendy Allen, he conceived Howard Hello. Afforded a low-key release on the reliable Temporary Residence label, this eponymous debut is one of the most startling discoveries of 2002 -- an ambient record with presence, a folk record with teeth. Featuring John Fahey-style acoustic pluckings, Anderson's broken, gulping vocals, and some beautiful digital mulching, Howard Hello is equal parts celestial tone poem and woodchipped glitchcore. In just three minutes, opening track "Television" sets the table -- Thibideau fingerpicks a rustic acoustic melody, runs it through a digital sieve, and reassembles the pieces on the right side of a spacious field recording. Elsewhere, "Belief" pits his processed arpeggios against a wall of church organ and breathy female vocals, "Dream" sees a gentle guitar coda mutate into a wash of ambient pads, and the uneasy "America" uses Anderson's sickly croak to goosebump-inducing effect. Simultaneously pacifying and unnerving, and still very much more than the sum of its considerable parts, Howard Hello is a rare gem.
AllMusic Review by Mark Pytlik