Lonnie Holley - MITH

The Quietus

Lonnie Holley’s reputation precedes him: the cultish figure of the 68-year-old outsider artist, experimental musician, frequent collaborator and father to 15 children (himself one of 27) would seem parodically bohemian were it not for the very real hardships (bereavement, imprisonment, serious injury, to name a few) that have regularly befallen him. Yet this veteran has created a record that, far from being cartoonish or hackneyed, feels tangible and rings true.

Plangent, breathy piano work, reminiscent of Bill Evans’ playing on Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue, functions as an anchor for the impressionism of Holley’s arrangements. This record is less a linear sequence of songs than a carousel whose steady churn frequently jolts and seethes under the weight of thunderous percussion and guttural, verbose vocalisation.

Like Low’s recent Double Negative, MITH is a vivid document of a gaunt, ailing America. Both records subvert familiar ideas and textures, exposing the rot beneath the received wisdoms upon which so much social discourse is built; their near-simultaneous release seems apt. But there’s another key ingredient here: hope. Holley dives deep into his country’s ills (‘I Woke Up In A Fucked-Up America’, ‘I’m A Suspect’), and then by the joyful ‘Sometimes I Wanna Dance’ he sounds liberated by the sheer chaos of the present, identifying its potential to trigger a fresh start. Whether or not you agree with that sentiment, his optimism feels refreshing and genuine.

MITH is an insightful record, one that gives its listener pause and feels like a valuable artefact of our time.

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Mon Oct 15 13:26:08 CEST 2018

79

Pitchfork

For his Jagjaguwar debut, the acclaimed 68-year-old sculptor offers a harrowing portrait of the United States and its systems for suffering. Then, he dances.

Thu Sep 27 07:00:00 CEST 2018

60

The Guardian

(Jagjaguwar)

A lifelong outsider artist, Alabama-born Lonnie Holley came to renown for his visual art, and in 2012 for his first foray into music. MITH is the s elf-taught piano man’s third outing, and although neophytes might struggle with Holley’s shruggy attitude to tunefulness – his free-ranging sound recalls, at different times, Tom Waits, Gil Scott-Heron or RL Burnside – a coterie of associates help to flesh out Holley’s non-linear storytelling into something more conventionally accomplished. With its swish and sway, There Was Always Water probably counts as jazz. The late Richard Swift contributes, as does ambient zither player Laraaji.

We’re not just here for that, though; we’re here for I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, an extraordinary 17-minute piano meditation full of violence and beauty. With the force of a lifetime at the mercy of unkind forces behind him, Holley’s I Woke Up In A Fucked-Up America is a tour de force set in the nightmare of the present-day.

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Sun Sep 23 09:00:20 CEST 2018