New material from Hiva Oa has been a long time coming. Sometimes, it seems, a period of inactivity is better for a band than one of constant creation. With the release of their forthcoming EP mk2 (part 1), core members Stephen Houlihan and Christine Tubridy departed Edinburgh, returning to their native Ireland seeking renewed inspiration. Hiva Oa retain the mystery and ambition of their former incarnations, but inject a heavy thrum to their intricate patchwork style, and turn their attentions to themes of fear, loneliness, abandonment and awakening. Listen to A Great Height HERE
On lead single A Great Height the band continue their controlled experimentation by marrying primal, dizzying electronica and a swelling bass hum, with minimal guitar patterns to create a tightly wound, suffocating and intense atmosphere that sets the tone for the EP. Somewhat appropriately it’s an anxious listen, the influence of Thom Yorke on vocalist Stephen Houlihan here provides the forlorn, and almost hopeless, punctuating refrain “…and I fall from a great height.” Elsewhere Seskinore demonstrates their skill in developing percussive motifs that flit from the suspenseful and shuffling, to eruptive, deafening, conclusions. A powerful resolution to each composition is never far from the minds of Hiva Oa.
The latter part of mk2 (part 1) begins to bring subtler intricacies to the fore. Christine is awash with swathes of gentle guitar, gifting the four-minute piece a transcendent quality that, coupled with another yearning vocal, offers the listener a brief glimpse into one of the EP’s more intimate moments, in this near-fearful, dream-like, serenade. Closing track Jonny Brazil again shifts unassumingly from sinewy indie-rock before revealing a raft of squalling guitars and inter-playing vocal melodies. Hiva Oa have become masters of developing atmospheres proving that, for them, a visit to old pastures has worked wonders.