This is one of my favorite albums of all time. It's very important, however, that it is clear that I am talking about Howard Hello's self-titled debut, and not the extremely disappointing follow-up, Don't Drink His Blood. Now we have that out of the way. Howard Hello's debut album is one of the most unique and beautiful albums I own. I must say that a lot, but it's just because I only recommend albums I really like. From the get-go you can tell this album is totally its own beast. It moves as a whole, but each piece retains its own sound - a guitar alternates between crystalline and processed into oblivion, compounding itself. Traffic noises spin gently into heartbreaking organ and voice. It descends to bubbling synths then stops short - a lonely guitar comes to accompany one of the few times you hear the singer's scratchy voice. Tape buzzes by you until an intricate melody is traced on guitar and compounded on keyboard. Something incredibly processed coincides with a thunderous bass end and a chorus of unidentifiable instruments before the bottom drops out and the singer whispers in your ear again. A short breather, then a guitar looping and echoing itself over atmospheric keyboards, before the closer in which a single melody repeats itself endlessly as other notes, chords, sounds, and instruments gather around it like dancers, growing to an extended, almost unbearably cacophonic conclusion, then disappearing and leaving its original self and an angelic chorus to fade away into nothingness.
It's a breathtaking album, 35 minutes long with no drums and very few words, and it's had regular play by me since it came out in 2002. As I've said many times, it's not for everybody, but for a few it is unforgettable.