Elaine Howley - The Distance Between Heart And Mouth
A really stunning debut, full of whispers and moods.
As a member of Crevice, Howlbux and, perhaps most notably, psychedelic rock group The Altered Hours, Elaine Howley is renowned as a singular voice in the Irish underground. The Distance Between Heart and Mouth is her most personal statement to date. “I was thinking a lot about the themes of silencing and communication,” she explains. “My voice and a lot of my feelings were buried and I wanted to push that out using music. That is the intention of this album - trying to be brave enough to share and to open up; along with the internal and external barriers that exist when it comes to doing that."
The Distance Between Heart and Mouth is the product of an audio diary kept on a 4 track cassette machine throughout 2019 and 2020. Pulling on formative teenage musical influences alongside memories of a childhood spent home-recording Longwave 252 transmissions, Howley recreates the intimacy of a radio show filled with her favourite sounds, pallets, and textures; effortlessly joining the dots between pop and experimentation. "I brought all those early influences along with me. It was a private time to enjoy music - listening to my Walkman or making mixtapes. I hear the roots of the sounds I am drawn to beginning then. I found myself returning to, and recreating something of that time, for this record."
The daily sit-down at her tape machine became an almost ritualistic experience over this period as Howley both experimented in sound and worked through her own vulnerabilities. “I wasn't burdening anyone or adding pressure to myself. I've always found music cathartic but this felt like a deeper level for me”. This release can be tangibly felt in lead single ‘Silent Talk’. “That track is about the urge to run and not share parts of myself but also about continuing to try to do that and about the patience people can show in waiting for me.” On second track ‘Autumn Speak’, we fully step into the album’s journey through the transition of Howley’s favourite season. “I was thinking about how resistance to decay through self preservation disrupts the process but cannot stop it and only serves to distort and delay. It’s a celebration of endings and allowing change to occur.” Such internal conflicts and strivings are captured sonically throughout the album as echoes and delays whirl into an endless expanse and samples run backwards and onwards.
Themes regarding memory are also written throughout, particularly in ‘Song For Mary
Black’, previously issued on Touch Sensitive’s ‘Wacker That’ compilation. “Mary Black was the first concert I saw and it had a huge impression on me. Growing up, I was a fan of the ‘A Woman’s Heart’ compilation of amazing Irish female voices. It made music feel closer to me than it had previously; it was local and it felt tangible. It reminded me of my Mam and Aunts.”
Alongside those early inspiring voices and the defining sounds of her teenage years, we can hear the dubbed-out blues of Leslie Winer, the kaleidoscopic world of Trish Keenan & Broadcast, and the bruised lo-fi soul of Tirzah. Over nine tracks, Elaine Howley traces the outline of a small space that can be considered one of the longest journeys to be taken - The Distance Between Heart And Mouth.
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