CD, Hive Records, 2006
Scarcely two years after the release of his debut album, Herzwig Holtzmann, alias Photophob, returns with “Still Warm”, a new opus released on Hive Records. In between the two albums, this prolific artist has been anything but idle having released a few albums and EPs on several netlabels.
With this latest album, Photophob veered considerably away from the realms of science-fiction that influenced most of his previous work and chose instead to steer his music inwards, making “Still Warm” an introspective journey. Permeated by feelings of melancholy, “Still Warm” is not unlike pensively being outdoors during a period of calm after a storm, while clouds slowly and oppressively gather to unleash their fury once more. And yet, despite the seemingly personal nature of this album, there is something disturbingly mechanical and soulless about it which translates into a feeling of uneasiness and that something is lacking.
Despite an evolution in style, “Still Warm” doesn’t offer many surprises for those already acquainted with Photophob’s work. With the exception of a significant use of voice samples and more aggressive broken beat structures this album still is easily recognizable as a “Photophob production”, all tracks showing great talent and skill with very precise, masterfully crafted IDM compositions. Beat structures and breaks, glitches, melodies and samples are assembled and layered with millimetric perfection throughout the album, perhaps a bit too perfectly, if you ask me. This near-perfect mechanical precision is what, in my opinion, slightly undermines “Still Warm” so that, in some points, the emotions that are intended to be conveyed by the music seem somewhat artificial to be considered genuine and organic.
Unsurprisingly, “Still Warm” flows remarkably well as an album, which makes picking individual highlight tracks extremely difficult. Compositions featuring prominent vocal samples are perhaps the ones that one notices and remembers with more ease, the musical compositions in this album not being particularly catchy, with “Huge Storm Coming (Fairy Falls)” being a prime example. Along with the above mentioned track, the hopeful “A God Given Gift” and “Bitter Sweet (but actually more bitter)” are perhaps the most memorable compositions in “Still Warm”, a remarkable album which is almost mandatory listening both for those that know and those that don’t know Photophob.
— Miguel de Sousa