Thierry Holweck

[When Animals Attack sleeve]"When Animals Attack" (Album, 2023)

Ombrelle Concrète

Thierry Holweck, veteran of the French music scene, released his third album last month on Ombrelle Concrète. Thierry's recent solo works have seen him explore the possibilities of modular synthesis combining live, outdoor recordings with studio-based pieces; and this album may be his most accomplished. When Animals Attack opens with the title track with its simple sequenced melodies which warp and twist into a combination of glitches.

Antic is another sparse arrangement. Woodblocks and plucked string tones combine with gentle sonic crunches and sampled sounds which recall Peter Gabriel's early experiments with the Fairlight CMI. Monkey Tree begins with an emulation of a Himalayan singing bowl before a bass with a 1970s analogue vibe contrasts.

The insistent pizzicato notes that begin Let The Children Play give way to a gentle melancholy flute like melody. Intermittent percussive abrasions interrupt before insistent Morse code tones play out. Polar Bear starts with a slow deliberate bassline as analogue crackles alternate left and right. Disturbing distant wails reminiscent of a 1950s sci-fi b-movie soundtrack break the surface as double time arpeggios play the track out.

Down By The River has a warm bass line combined with the sound of a tongue drum. World music hints of didgeridoo and pipes make this the most layered track on the album. Slow oscillating saws start Fragments before high pitch synth lines scurry past. Tension builds and subsides into low frequency pulses .... then silence, then the return of insistent sonic chase to the end.

At a time when most music is characterised by densely layered arrangements, When Animals Attack cuts a refreshing and distinct figure. Each track is spare and deliberate. Space and sparseness lead the listener to focus on individual tones and instruments.

Thierry takes the glitch era electronics of the early 2000's and smooths them into a more melodic form whilst retaining bite and attack at unexpected moments. The crispness and precision of this album calls to mind the sparser tracks on the debut of German Kosmische super group Harmonia; and Thierry's upcoming live dates present an irresistible opportunity to hear his music in a live setting. 7/10

Alan Strode (June 2023)