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Keeley Forsyth - The Hollow

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The wilds of Keeley Forsyth’s adopted home in the North of England seem to inhabit this, her third record. An often bleak and foreboding landscape surrounds the Yorkshire town in which Forsyth resides. The moors, on clear days, visible from her home studio window, impact upon a music that often feels made of these places. Windswept, rain soaked and blinking through the low-lit landscape. It is here through the gloaming mist that the storm breaks and the fox tears at the throat as the Red Kites circle to scavenge whatever’s left. “There was a sound I had in my head. One to reach, that hovers above and is slightly less grounded. But a sound and feeling that nonetheless is inevitably tethered to the soil”.

The title for the new collection derives from happening upon a long-abandoned mining shaft whilst out walking. At once alluring and hazardous, forced into a hillside, “there appeared a room and ever darkening hallway carved out of the ground. A place to be swallowed by, but also to emerge from”. It’s this push and pull that is reflected in the tone, craft, and preoccupations of The Hollow. The past lurking within and haunting the present we now occupy. A connection to time that places us within it, facing what is gone and what may come. But also, perhaps the harsh notion that time has no concern as to whether we are here or not. “There is a bleak dust that hides on the cracks”.

At the beginning of 2023, Forsyth lost the woman who raised her from birth. Estranged from her parents, Forsyth was taken in and brought up by her grandmother Mary on a council estate in Oldham. It was Mary who encouraged the acting and singing from an early age having Forsyth attend the Oldham Theatre Workshop, a community-based theatre school prided on principles of inclusivity. The song ‘Eve’ is dedicated to her, reflecting upon and processing the sensation of going through loss as it is happening. Forsyth laments, “A cold wind sweeps up the dead” / “Nothing can tear us apart, let the body lay down and die”. We hear momentary field recordings of lapping water, wind and workers, the aspects of life continuing elsewhere, as we are forced to adapt to the grief and face the coming days without that someone who we love and need. The song, ‘Come And See’, also reflects candidly upon this experience, that most come to endure, submerged in a hospital’s bland pastel walls, waiting solemnly to accept endings and then the final ceremonial goodbye, “Chasing names in burnt air”.

The unique elemental voice with which we are now familiar from her critically acclaimed previous recordings sits centrally confident in a world that is of Forsyth’s making. Drawing upon personal experience without being overly literal or illustrative, Forsyth’s cathartic reflections are exorcisms in song. Songs peopled by a legion of empathetic characters and voices all of whom share something of herself. We hear an artist making sense of her life, willing to expose vulnerability without ever appearing or sounding weak but also as she states, “not wanting to dictate or control the meaning of these songs to those who may listen”.

There are experiments with an expanding field of collaborators and approaches. Forsyth’s good friend Matthew Bourne returns to end the record with the delicately paired down ‘Creature’. Colin Stetson was invited after Forsyth attended his solo live show, admiring his singular approach, at once technically brilliant and emotionally captivating. “We decided to try something together. I could hear the marriage of these sounds, both very human expressions, coming from the control of breath and breathing”. The resulting track, ‘Turning’, is a feverish cyclical dervish with Stetson utilising a range of saxophones to create a Glass-like arpeggiated stampede for Forsyth to ride alongside.

Working again with producer Ross Downes, (Photograph and Limbs) Forsyth desired to place the music to the side of any given genre. “We wanted to make something slightly more expansive, continuing to reference what we love from various genres without ever belonging to one”. It’s with this ethos that we recognise aspects of sacred music, minimalist post-classical, dark ambient, film and theatre soundtracks. “The intimacy of the harmonium and vocal are still present on songs such as ‘Slush’ but I felt the need to try and evolve the sound. To search for more in the voice and give me license to explore range. It was more about allowing myself”. With this in mind, Forsyth has layered her vocals into chamber choirs, applied pitch shifts and other digital processing, and speaks directly with clear articulate intention one moment (‘The Answer’ / ‘A Shift’) to mumbled numb utterances in the next (‘The Hollow’).

This record also draws upon the works of others, repurposed into Forsyth’s world. Having felt greatly affected by the themes of domestic duty, poverty, love, and compassion depicted in Bela Tarr’s final film, The Turin Horse, she contacted its composer and Tarr’s long-time collaborator Mihály Vig to ask for permission to ‘reimagine’ his soundtrack score. With his blessing the resulting track, ‘Horse’, is a pressurised outpouring, steadily building as the everyday is cast within a new mythical light of survival and hope. The repetitive banalities of life become epic as the character attends to the needs of others. “The fire must keep / My father must sleep / Around this house I creep”. ‘A Shift’, sees Forsyth directly reference the protest song ‘We Are Women, We Are Strong ‘ by Mal Finch. A song that was originally made to be sung by the wives and daughters in support of the miner’s strikes during the upheaval of the early 80’s. We hear it in the background as Forsyth re-contextualises the song in solidarity for an experience of someone’s creative labour. “And I work. And I dance. And I practice. To provide. For expression”. Perhaps a rare political view addressing “a failing government insisting I retrain, just as I’m beginning”.

Although having made music privately for most of her life it was only eventually in 2020 that she felt ready to find an audience with the release of her debut collection Debris. Since then, Forsyth has toured extensively internationally with forthcoming shows scheduled at the London’s ICA, Rewire festival in DenHaag and Bristol New Music. She has been awarded the PRS new music commission for her performance piece Bog Body and has scored Maxine Peake’s directorial debut short film, Incompatible. She has become a sought-after collaborator, currently working towards projects with the Iceland-based electronic music producer Ben Frost, and the Italian composer Teho Teardo and is currently finishing a suite of songs for voice and piano with Matthew Bourne. Of late she has taken on guest vocal duties for Louis Carnell among others, as well as remixes for Gazelle Twin and French electronic musician Quin Quis. Forsyth has also returned to acting in the past year with parts in Jessica Hausner’s Club Zero and Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things.

Edition Info

• Dinked Edition 284
• Cream white coloured vinyl *
• A2 folded poster, signed by Keeley *
• 16 page 12”x12” lyric booklet *
• Numbered edition *
• Limited pressing of 350

* EXCLUSIVE to Dinked Edition


1. The Answer
2. The Hollow
3. Come And See
4. Eve
5. Turning
6. A Shift
7. Slush
8. Drag Me Down
9. Do I Breathe
10. In The Corner
11. Horse
12. Creature

Released 10th May 2024

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Keeley Forsyth - The Hollow

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