Tamu Massif is the pseudonym of Dave Dixon. He began as a more traditional singer-songwriter, writing his songs on guitar with nothing but strums, chords, and his smooth voice. Dixon later began to incorporate lo-fi production, bedroom-pop leanings, and some alluring psychedelia into his tender acoustic pleas. “Holding Back,” his latest one-off following his stellar debut EP Alba, is a mini-retracing of the evolution of his sound.
The song begins in delicate solitude with Dixon’s feathery vocals floating beautifully in and out of sparse guitar. It slowly builds into an exquisitely layered excursion, with stuttered, glitchy digital blips, cleverly syncopated drums, and full, gorgeous harmonies. He sings “You say it isn’t so, but I know that you’re holding back, you’re moving on,” and him coming to terms with someone slipping away from him parallels the slow building aesthetic perfectly. The initial sadness of his realization that his partner is no longer his turns into confidence as the beat stacks around his vocals. Just as we may shuffle through an array of feelings in the search for closure, the arrangement becomes more complicated before finally settling into serenity after a huge crescendo.