Album review: Howling, Sacred Ground


Howling’s latest longplayer, Sacred Ground, effortlessly plays as if mimicking clockwork and patterns of time, containing 12 tracks, reflecting the hours on a clock and the number of months in a year.

Layered with soul and contrasts, Sacred Ground flickers between Ry X’s slow haunting vocals and the fast paced beat of tracks produced by Innervisions leader Frank Wiedemann. Sacred Ground is both enjoyable to listen to and reflect upon lyrically as it is to dance to.

Consisting of Ry’s controlled and delicate vocals is ‘Signs’ encompassed by a layer of sustained piano chords, guitars, synths and a drum pad. As the song progresses, the track picks up pace and the contrast between the fast paced melody and Ry’s slow and haunting vocals are brought to light.

‘Stole The Night’ is a confronting tune, consisting of heavy synth patterns, bass, chords and a harrowing beat that resonates long after the night is finished. The track conveys the illusion of acceptance for one’s actions only to be underpinned by a distinct emptiness that leaves one feeling numb.

The beat picks up pace in ‘X Machina’ with an array of automated sounds can be described as simply: the ultimate party song for robots.

Inspired by light and context of which sound is heard, ‘Litmus’ mimics city soundscapes reacting to solutions of life as well as the way we perceive them.

Pregnant with possibility, ‘Zürich’ is a refreshing harp based ethereal track, which sits perfectly in the middle of the album. Listening to this invigorates and awakens you to an understanding or realisation of a journey already taken.

‘Short Line’ pulsates like a heartbeat, playing with elements of audio panning and reverb to create the movement within the aural landscape. The track enhances a listener’s current emotional state, bringing out all aspects of life be it good or bad.

Slowly unraveling into a dark rhythmical pattern, ‘Forest’ resembles lighthearted pitter-patter of rain atop a forest canopy and slowly crescendos into a downpour of musical goodness.

‘Howling’ presents us with a more acoustic sound, resonating with Ry X’s folk background. It encompasses the idea of searching or of calling out, sometimes into an empty void; silence. Hypnotic and alluring, ‘Howling’ is the night’s siren song and as legend has it, is dangerously addictive. The guitar’s acoustic riff repeats throughout as if to mimic waves slowly washing ashore until lead vocals blend into the background becoming distant and faded.

‘Lullaby’, perfectly placed as the LP’s last track, is a repetitive tune, cyclical in nature as if alluding to patterns of sleep and time. A fitting end to Sacred Ground, ‘Lullaby’ ends the album leaving listeners feeling at peace as if to say good night.

From the revelation ‘Signs’ provides to the soothing sounds of ‘Lullaby’, Sacred Ground sways back in forth like a pendulum, moving through time and space at a constant rate. The sound is a refreshing, comforting, and leaves listeners with strangely familiar taste.

The perfect accompaniment for days when you just want to stare out a window and reflect on life; the Howling’s sound is strangely ethereal, holding resonance with moods of both despair and the freedom of letting go.



Words by Addy Fong. Sacred Ground is out now.