Halves – Boa Howl

Halves are a band that strive for perfection in everything that they do.From their album artwork right through to their stunning live visuals and meticulously honed songs there is a commitment to their craft that is integral to their identity as a band. In short, Halves care about their art, and how that art is presented to the world.

Their debut album, ‘It Goes, It Goes (forever & ever)’, released in 2009 announced Halves as one of Ireland’s most innovative acts, peerless in their pursuit of excellence and they were rewarded with a richly deserved nomination for a Choice Music Award.

They should brace themselves for more plaudits and award nominations because Boa Howl is another beautifully fashioned collection of songs and a front runner for Irish album of the year; a record of hushed, sombre beauty that draws you in with every listen.

This trio of Brian Cash, Elis Czerniak & Tim Czerniak continue to forge a unique presence on the Irish music scene – their blend of ambient electronica, strings, brass and guitars are fused together to create something truly special, closer in spirit to bands like Efterklang and early Sigur Ros than to any of their peers on the local music scene.

Opening track ‘Drumhunter’ sounds more than a little like Radiohead but from there on in the influences are harder to discern – Boa Howl is an album steeped in atmosphere, trading in light and shade and a melancholic splendour that is both haunting and affecting.

The wonderful ‘Tanager Peaks’ features a stunning vocal contribution from Gemma Hayes, a perfect fit for a melody of such glowing beauty. ‘Best Summer’ emerges from a fog of electronica, a whispered secret that we are privileged to bear witness to, while ‘White Boa Howl’ has a surreal, almost other-worldly feel –its distorted tracked vocal and swooning strings sounding like a vintage recording from a long forgotten time and place.

The album closes with the elegiac ‘Let Them Come’- the softly keening vocal melody eventually yields to an elegant guitar coda that offers a glimpse of light after so much sombre beauty.

Boa Howl is an album that rewards patience with magic – it is not an easy or accessible listen in the conventional sense, but once you find a way in, you will not want to leave.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)