Jimmy Asquith is best known for heading up the suite of Lobster Theremin labels, it’s distribution arm, and its fledgling London based record store. Just recently, he has started to make himself known as a producer in his own right, rolling out an EP and archive out-takes releases under the moniker Tom Hang. Now, following these initial exploratory expeditions, is his debut album ‘To Be Held In A Non-Position‘.
Its several tracks merge together to form two pieces of continuous audio – a side of vinyl each – themed around “isolation, loneliness, personal loss, disconnection and reconnection with reality and self-identity,” all through the medium of ambient and drone. Let us be clear, this isn’t a turn off and tune out experience, with the emphasis being thoroughly on reflective meditation.
While you may question that last sentiment as your internal canvas starts to paint a picture of YouTube channels specialising in 10 hour stretches of binaural noise, it is a misconception that meditation is simply an exercise in drifting off for a pleasant daydream. Leading to this conclusion are three key facets within the album.
First is the setting. Opening track “Tibetan Crash”, complete with its angry and occasionally near white mouse ocean swell, makes a direct and obvious link to the mountain vistas of the nation. Yet is a further link to be made in within the geography, and that brings us to the second point. These are the moments of focus that punctuate the album, vital in creating a meditative atmosphere.
There is a certain practice of meditation for Tibetan monks that takes place in absolute silence bar for the periodic and long tailed ring of a bell, the purpose of which is to create a mental focal point for meditation to take place. You’ll actually hear that very same tone in “The Calling”, ringing out and switching places the dial tone of a phone. While that significant and tiny bell is an obvious aural connection, there are frequent moments of similar calm and focus throughout the album, such as the chant and arpeggio of “Everything Is Ending”, or the odd half heard diatribe- as if you’re half asleep on a coach listening to an indistinct tannoy – in “Everybody Left Behind”, or the final release that happens as “All Lost And Forgotten Woes” euphorically plays out into a reprise of “The Calling”.
Then there is the final point, which is a unique trait of this meditation technique, where the monks are periodically struck with a bamboo rod. The purpose of which is to ensure the time isn’t just spent having a sneaky snooze and to ensure full attention for the moments of focus. ‘To Be Held In A Non-Position‘ is full of these sharp cracks through passages of pure intensity where you find yourself unconsciously balling your feet into fists. This cathartic experience is absolutely vital. Without the noisy dissonance of “Tibetan Crash”, or the near Pomme Fritz insanity of “Intel” and “Hiya”, or the mad gabba/EBM throw down of “Please” and “Love Song For A Hammer”, all the moments of calm would be for nothing. After these sharp intakes of breath, a space develops with which you fill with your thoughts – contemplation over worries of the present, retrospective analysis over actions in the past and the pinprick of light of future hopes.
Even though ‘To Be Held In A Non-Position‘ is a deeply personal album for Jimmy Asquith, he has also created a very unique place with which to project yourself into. As individuals, our backgrounds and experiences will create an absolutely distinct listening experience, where your appreciation may drastically vary to the many passages written above. It is an exquisite pain that introduces itself into your life at the precisely opportune time for it to become your crutch.
‘To Be Held In A Non-Position’ is out now on Tidy Bedroom, grab a copy here.
A1 Tibetan Crash
A2 Theme For B======
A3 Everything Is Ending
B1 The Calling
B2 Everybody Left Behind
B3 Open Sanctions
B5 Love Song For Hammer
B6 All Lost & Forgotten Woes
B7 The Calling (Reprise)