A rare pink meadow grasshopper was recently spotted in inner-city Salford by Dr Luke Blazejewski, an independent film-maker and urban wildlife specialist. I can only imagine the excitement he must have felt that day, knowing it’s discovery could be an important piece in understanding, documenting and protecting our environment. It gives us a fascinating insight into how, when left alone, a small ecosystem can be a breeding ground for life at it’s most magical and unique.
When I think about it, what Dr Luke and I do isn’t all that different. For the past 8 years, I’ve tried to document Manchester’s music scene, with it’s sprawling diversity, hidden secrets and ever-changing landscape. Undoubtedly a new name to most, Tom Hardwick-Allan is my latest find, every bit as beautiful as a rare pink grasshopper. From the early raw bedroom demo’s of ‘Li’ and ‘Unwritten Confession 2’, where Tom’s baritone vocal crackles and glows into near oblivion, to his more recent experiments with drone and industrial noise on ‘Cold Clear Sky’ and ‘When You Die I’ll Think Of You As The Sky’; it’s clear to me that there is something special at work here. Still only a teenager, and at times bringing to mind Dean Blunt at his most understated and emotive, these developing ideas are fragmented but undeniably affecting.
‘Snakes Fucking‘ is a bleak but darkly euphoric introduction to his world, with it’s chiming guitars and bellowing trombone, seemingly unsure of itself but unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Using google translate to dehumanise his voice, the unnatural patterns of speech are at odds with the track’s lyrical content, which reveal a painfully intimate cry for help. All too aware of it’s contradictory nature, it’s hard not to find yourself disappearing into Hardwick-Allan’s lonely post-modern depths with relative ease. The video only enhances this experience further, with it’s minimalist and clinical grey room, in stark contrast to the private self-reflection on offer. As the track progresses, a Pinocchio-esque long nose is revealed, perhaps hinting that the lines between the real and the unreal are often closer than you think.
Tom Hardwick-Allan releases debut EP ‘When Waiting’ in August via Tru Luv https://truluv.bandcamp.com/
One thing I think all of us at TRU LUV can agree on is the absurd idea that, in music writing terms, a track or release is deemed dead in the water within days – in just a couple of weeks it’s absolutely buried. Bonkers beyond belief. The way I look at it, if it’s new to me then it’s no doubt new to somebody else. So let’s just take a step back.
I was on the look out for fresh spins for the old platter, and something instantly pulled me towards Amir Abbey aka Secret Pyramid‘s LP ‘Movements Of Night’, originally released on Students Of Decay way back in the autumn of 2013. Certainly, I’m a bit of a sucker for grainy black and white photography, all the better if it’s black and white photography which also happens to be pointing towards a distant galaxy. A great shot.
And the contents, they didn’t disappoint. The easy old “ambient” tag doesn’t quite tell the whole story. In album opener A Descent, the gorgeous main chordal figure is slowly enveloped by advancing sustained drones, gradually opening and illuminating, drawing the listener into the blurry warmth of it’s core. It’s a track you can If you wish simply take on face value; after all these are beautiful, starry, tasteful sounds.
But then on the other hand, it’s so much more than background music. If you want it to be, it’s also immersive, meditative, expansive. And above all, highly addictive.
Manchester based Tom Hardwick Allan is continuing to create alarmingly beautiful pieces of work, tiny glimpses into a man experimenting with his own mind. Sea Glass with looped vocals and almost spiritual moans, builds slowly into something heavenly. It takes a while to break through its delicate nature but it’s certainly worth the effort
Displaying full textural glory in 11 minute composition When You Die I’ll Think of You In The Sky, his music is uncompromising, incorporating elements of both noise and drone. These recordings might be challenging but it won’t be long before his ideas are transforming into something more accessible and ultimately more relatable.
After witnessing 2 truly compelling live performances in recent weeks, I’m starting to believe that Hardwick Allan is undergoing a musical development that could see the birth of a voice to believe in. Deep in tone with a rare affecting quality: it is this instrument he needs to uncover and find confidence in.