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Album Review

One 40-minute track built around one undeniably beautiful acoustic guitar phrase that slowly disintegrates around similarly repeated spoken word passages, Helene pairs the work of ambient sound collagist hollAnd and New York modern artist Mark Borthwick. Originally created to accompany a Swedish exhibition of Borthwick's work (also entitled Helene), the piece is forced to stand on its own with its visual component only consisting of the two photographs that come with the disc. That it works as well as it does is fairly amazing, and even if it never has the listener on the edge of his or her seat, it is a pretty compelling concept that never really seems to slip into pretentiousness. The spoken word elements are fairly abstract, made even more so by tape manipulation and the insertion of a variety of blips and cracks, making this one of the few works that is roughly parallel in deconstruction of both voice and music. In the end, it's a strangely enduring listen that may not lead to addictively repeated listens but should survive as more than a conversation piece.

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Helene, HollAnd Borthwick
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