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/
The vast majority of prediction lists are predictable in themselves, dominated by artists with huge marketing campaigns behind them. New music blogs are all too often the same, more concerned with backing a winner (and getting hits) than going against the grain, working harder to find something new and exciting. The blogs I admire have always presented the listener with something a little different.
Right now, Tom Hardwick Allan is something a little different, as exciting to me as a figure like Dean Blunt. His darkness and mystery have much appeal, as does his youth. He is at times a difficult listen and however beautiful and fucking brilliant I think he is, his music is always going to be a hard sell to your average listener.
Cold Clear Sky displays an array of textured sounds, from the industrial and the eerie, to the warmth of recorded chattering at a party. They build into a rich and deeply profound noise, his deeply emotive baritone voice balanced within, and each word with the weight of the world behind it. Often his voice remains in the background of his compositions, but here it is starting to break out. Hardwick Allan continues to intrigue and amaze me.
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.
I’ve always been very open to admit that TRU LUV has an agenda in showcasing Manchester artists – and certainly in the last few months I’ve noticed the emergence of a talented new generation, all connected by a willingness to experiment and collaborate.
With this being said, I’m delighted to introduce Tom Hardwick Allan, a solo artist taking his first steps in uncompromising fashion. Its not clear whether these demo tracks were ever really meant to be heard by a wider audience (I get the impression he doesn’t yet realise his own talent) but what is clear is his ability to present intimacy to devastating effect.
On Unwritten Confession 2 his baritone vocals drowsily cut through a swirl of noise: this is heartbreaking material, both raw and honest. li exposes him yet further: a ghostly hum, a despondent howl and lyrics so sad that you find yourself crying at unreasonable times in the morning, with nothing but a window to look out of in the hope that someone somewhere is falling in love with the same song you are.