What Makes Vulnerability Good is the new album from Like A Villain, aka the New York (via Portland) dwelling composer, performance and visual artist Holland Andrews.
What Makes Vulnerability Good is a deeply visceral and startlingly dynamic record. It moves like a pilgrimage through evocative soundscapes of ambiance, electronica, opera, contemporary jazz, and noise-pop. It takes influence from Andrews’ love of musical theatre as well as the avant-garde musicianship of Scott Walker, the emotional rawness of Diamanda Galas and the harsh enveloping soundscapes of Yellow Swans. With touches of Arab on Radar’s industrial noise blurred with the dense electronica of Holly Herndon.
Like A Villain is known for creating compositions which focus on the abstraction of operatic and extended-technique voice to build soundscapes that offer both dissonance and a catharsis. The work frequently highlights themes surrounding vulnerability and healing, created with arrangements which harness Holland’s striking quasi-operative vocal and the power and elegance of the clarinet. Both run through the veins of What Makes Vulnerability Good with Andrews’ impassioned near-screamed vocal adding a weight to the personal purging of weakness, fear and heartbreak laid bare on the record. With themes of vengeance, loss and rebirth, What Makes Vulnerability Good explores Andrews’ own complicated personal history surrounding death. With an awareness that trauma and extreme emotion is often internalised and can be a source of deep loneliness, the music of Like A Villain aims to create a sonic environment wherein listeners can move through their own darkness and find their own personal catharsis.
“My goal is to create a space where we can safely be turned to rubble, and then compassionately examine the pieces while we heal our most tender selves. Of course, we at times need a reprieve from intensity, so I offer those moments in the album as well.” – Like A Villain
Holland Andrews was raised surrounded by women singing, the artist’s mother and sisters were in a group signed to Joe Jackson’s record label in the 1970’s. Andrews’ own musical path was formed in the creation and performance of soundscapes for dance, theatre and film artists. Andrews’ work has garnered recognition from publications such as The New York Times, Le Monde, La Republica and Business Times (among others).
What Makes Vulnerability Good is Like A Villain’s third album following The Life of a Gentleman (2010) and Bast (2014), and more recently the Mussel EP (2018).
released September 20, 2019
Written by Like A Villain and engineered and produced by Arjan Miranda (with engineering assistance by Ryan Oxford at Color Therapy Studios in Portland, Oregon, USA). The record features Joe Cunningham on saxophone and Laurence Vidal on cello.