Holy Hum tran­scends grief


The Georgia Straight - - Music -

While on tour in Al­berta over the 2

win­ter of 2011, An­drew Lee—the mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary artist be­hind Holy Hum—got a call from his fa­ther. He re­vealed that he was very sick with a rare and ag­gres­sive form of thy­roid cancer. Lee turned the van around, can­celled the re­main­ing shows, and spent the next month at his dad’s bed­side, sit­ting for hours in var­i­ous hospi­tals un­til his fa­ther passed away.

The back­ground to All of My Bod­ies goes some way to­wards ex­plain­ing its in­cred­i­ble power. Par­a­lyz­ingly emo­tive, the 11-track al­bum ex­plores what it means to lose a loved one, how to live a good life, and how to come to terms with death.

The record is, in a word, tran­scen­dent. Rich sound­scapes en­gulf the lis­tener from the open­ing sec­onds, as heav­ily re­verbed synth drones swell around mus­cu­lar drum hits and Lee’s vel­vety tones. “You reached out your hand to mine/you said this mo­ment here/turn it into a song for me,” he croons on the ti­tle track with a pas­sion that is un­flinch­ingly au­then­tic.

It’s not easy tack­ling the com­plex­ity of los­ing a par­ent, and it’s more dif­fi­cult still to cap­ture one’s grief in song. Lee does this by os­cil­lat­ing be­tween raw­ness and res­ig­na­tion, in­ter­spers­ing vo­cal-heavy num­bers with in­stru­men­tal tracks to con­vey the depth of his feel­ing both in and out­side of lan­guage. Un­der­stand­ably, All of My Bod­ies is not an easy lis­ten. Tracks like “White Buzz” chal­lenge Lee’s au­di­ence to en­dure the depth of his frus­tra­tions with heav­ily dis­torted, atonal noise so­los, while even the softer “Ready to Have It” (a song un­der­scored by smooth clar­inets and melodic string har­monies) is de­mand­ing in its im­men­sity.

While dif­fi­cult, All of My Bod­ies is both ur­gent and nec­es­sary. Fall­ing some­where be­tween mod­ern clas­si­cal mu­sic and a Mog­wai-es­que sound­scape, the al­bum verges on a mod­ern mas­ter­piece. An­drew Lee’s fa­ther would be proud.


de­sign is fun­da­men­tally screwed/ A month on the streets would do you good.” That’s prob­a­bly aimed at the suits on Howe Street, but god­damn if it doesn’t some­how seem equally ap­pli­ca­ble to the likes of Green Day, Good Char­lotte, and Blink-182.


come through on ev­ery track. While Loewen pro­pels the mo­men­tum with his rib-rat­tling beats and for­ays on pi­ano and theremin, Gr­dina’s style on all man­ner of plucked string in­stru­ments draws from a rich tapestry of ex­per­i­men­tal and worldly in­flu­ences, im­plor­ing fans of King Crim­son, Primus, and Ali Farka Touré to take note.


All of My Bod­ies.

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