Halls: Ark – album reviewHalls: Ark (No Pain in Pop)
Out Now

Halls is a solo project of Sam Howard, 21, who is based in South London. This, his debut album, is a magnificent piece of ambient-electronic artistry.

The first track, the intriguingly titled ‘I’ rolls in like a train, with epic brooding sound effects, and overwhelming bursts of sound, making up the brief first song, coming in at just under two minutes.

This leads nicely onto the next track, ‘White Chalk farm’, where we finally hear some vocals, booming in unexpectedly and almost invasively. There’s a haunting element to this sound, and it is easy to see why it has been described as constructivist, as there is a lot going on here with regards to arrangement and production. It is a beautiful, at times slightly uneven, mesh of eerily echoing vocal chords, heart-pounding beats and cinematic music. If I were going to make a film about a haunted church for lost and wandering souls this would be the ideal soundtrack.

‘I’m Not There’ just saunters and glides along, completely at its own pace, drifting this way and the other way drearily and dreamily. This is music which can make you sit up and listen, as well as make you want to fall asleep on the spot, even if you are listening to it whilst walking down the road. The album inspires numerous contradictions in the mind, but never loses the constant appeal of its melancholic and sleepy elegance.

‘Roses For The Dead’ arrives seamlessly after the track before. This is a real album for albums sake, as opposed to a collection of individual songs. The album runs cohesively and with the sound of purpose and structure. Listening to the majestic music, images of graveyards and dancehalls pop up at the same time. There is both an ‘Ark’ and an ‘Arc’ amongst the song titles on this album, giving a wry, teasing feel to the track list.

‘Funeral’ brings to mind an image of skimming stones over a pool full of murky unknown substances. This immense, colossal sound is carried on with ‘Shadow Of The Colossus’, the warmer, enchanting tones of ‘Reverie’, and frantic ‘Holy Communion’ which sounds like it is self-combusting.

The album finishes with the icily endearing ‘Winter Prayer’. There seems to be a spooky religious theme running through the album, particularly in the second half.

This album has that rare quality of seeming to fall into a genre of its own, inhabiting its own fascinating and daunting space. A great listen for when you are looking for something truly new sounding, or just looking for something to numb your ears and head with a beautiful skittering smooth clatter.

More info about Halls can be found on the No Pain In Pop website here.

Halls can be found on Twitter as @hallsmusic. He also has his own website here.

All words by Roisin Kelleher. Roisin is on twitter as @RoisinLKelleher

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Music has always been a passion, obviously. My favourites at the moment are Bela Takes Chase, Ali Ingle, and Ninth Paradise, but these are only a bare few of the many great talents out there today. Today’s music scene has a tendency to be chastised, but I have full faith in a lot of flourishing artists emerging right now and my main purpose when writing is to share these with the world!


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