This Way to Escape

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After two EPs and one full-length album on his own label, Cuba Club Media, Hollydrift (aka Matthias Anderson) released This Way to Escape on the Omaha-based do-it-yourself CD-R imprint Public Eyesore. It represents a big leap forward: It sounds better, it hits harder, and it lasts longer. The latter point may be the most important here. Previous efforts were short -- even the full-length In These Days of Merriment clocked in only a few seconds over 36 minutes. Hollydrift's recipe of antiquated communication sounds (shortwave, Morse code, etc.) and ambient electronics worked well in short duration, but could he produce something worth lasting longer? The answer is yes. In the course of its 53 minutes, This Way to Escape never becomes redundant. The focus is still on communication -- even miscommunication. From telephone survey rants to speeches about how to address an audience, from the ghostly broadcasts of number stations to astronaut conversations, the music constantly features a parallel discourse about Man's visceral need to communicate. Most pieces are made of such samples, a simple rhythm track, and ethereal synthesizers and electronics. At times, they offer captivating sound associations and collages. At others they lack focus, moving around aimlessly to the point where you have to repeatedly glance at your CD player's display to know when one piece ends and another starts. "Amphenol" takes a different approach; this one comes closer to a song, strongly influenced by Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, and Coil. Despite its occasional flaws, This Way to Escape is stronger than any previous Hollydrift release. It is less about attitude, more about content.

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