Thursday, 16 August 2018

I'm So Hollow - Emotion / Sound / Motion (1981)

Here's one which seems conspicuously under-represented in the field of posthumous rarities boxed sets at two-hundred quid a pop and, if we look closely, not even a measly CD reissue back when even my cat had his first album re-released by some boutique label with bonus tracks. I'm So Hollow, should they require introduction, were one of those Sheffield bands who enjoyed a brief flurry of angular expressionist excitement back in the day, followed by not much else, not even following the release of a full length album on the briefly wonderful Illuminated label.

People always bang on about Manchester as a font of musical genius - even those who aren't actually from the city, despite occasionally pretending otherwise, smiling indulgently and sighing ah Manchester, so much to answer for, because they heard some bigger boys saying it a bit earlier behind the bike sheds and thought it sounded cool; and yet when Manchester is invoked, I personally think of Northside, Herman's fucking Hermits, execrable Beatles tribute acts, that fucking James record they played on the wireless every five bleeding minutes for an entire decade, and Morrissey working hard on his Free Tommy Robinson benefit album; so no offense, but you were probably thinking of fucking Sheffield. I'm sure there must have been a shit band from Sheffield at some point, but I can't name one, and it seems significant that even those we've apparently forgotten were amazing.

Yes. Amazing.

I'm So Hollow - who recorded at Cabaret Voltaire's Western Works, and who had a track from those sessions released on Vice Versa's label - sound to me like a sort of baby Clock DVA, specifically the early Clock DVA, jazz-poppy and yet so angular it's a wonder no-one lost a finger. Jangling, razor guitar is offset with starkly modernist touches, random honking saxophone or a burping synth to create something that's quite emotional, even melodramatic for all the glowering and cheekbones. In fact, if we cast our collective mind back to all those eighties Cabaret refugees busily rebuilding thirties Berlin with just an SH101 and lip gloss, all your Hazel O'Connors and your Mobiles, this is probably what they were trying to do, except it works. It's not that we've been deprived of potentially mainstream artists who manage to sound this weird since the release of Emotion / Sound / Motion, but there aren't many who achieved the balance so well as I'm So Hollow, and they were usually better remembered.

1 comment: