Daliah – Holy Mountain

Daliah becomes known to me for the first time through this release on Whitelabrecs. Under the moniker of Daliah, the Tennessee-based John Clubb has previously released with Chilean tape label, NO PROBLEMA, as well as putting out a selection of his own work via Soundcloud and Bandcamp which can be found here and here. After listening through a selection of Clubb’s earlier works to get to grips the hazy, dreamlike ambient music produced under the name of Daliah, it’s time to dive in with ‘Holy Mountain’, released earlier in June on the faithful Whitelabrecs.

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‘Holy Mountain’ begins with its title track; a gentle introduction of smooth synth drones glittered with off-kilter glitches that resemble exaggerated tape warble. A fade to silence occurs mid-way through the album’s opener, leaving nothing but the sound of tape hiss now brought to the forefront. The drones return, this time with more erratic flutter, easing the listener to the second track, ‘Greyscale’. In ‘Greyscale’, Clubb utilizes a more abrasive sound, with quick-moving filters, tightly looped phrases, and a heightened presence of noise and audible degradation of sound. The ability to use harsh textures without fatiguing the listener is often missed within ambient music, however, Clubb gets it right. When it fades to reveal a patchwork of contrasting movements within pieces, it feels as though the abrasiveness is mossed.

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In ‘Jimothy Jones’, ghostly pianos decorated with un-earthy echoes points towards the likes of augmentations of Tim Hecker, the dusty cut loops of Jan Jelinek, and the glorified deteriations of the great William Basinski. It brings a feeling of slow decline; the retrogression of a fragile instrument played by failing hands. The lengthy musical pauses continue throughout the album, including a number of instances where I’ve had to check back to the track-listing a number of times; ‘Call Home’ providing a perfect example, multiple times. It is at these moments where anticipate an unexpected ending, only for a dramatic re-emergence takes hold. Clubb’s strategic use of near-silence throughout ‘Holy Mountain’ is excellent, adding both tension and a sense of vulnerability to the music.

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The album winds down to a close with three shorter tracks: ‘Last Breath’, ‘Some Type of Goodbye’, and ‘Reprisal’ (in order from tracks 10 to 12), showcasing the recurring themes of deteriorating and augmented instruments, abstracted tones, and open-form performance in a more condensed fashion.

Daliah – ‘Holy Mountain’ is out now on Whitelabrecs, and a handful of physical copies remain. The album can be bought as a limited edition vinyl-effect CDr with polaroid artwork (originally by Frederica Jeanne De Luca), as a digital download, or as part of the Whitelabrecs CDr Box Set 21-40.

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