Iceboy Violet & Nueen

You Said You’d Hold My Hand Through The Fire


A breakup record, ghost story, mystery and love poem, Iceboy Violet and Nueen are natural storytellers on their collaboration for Hyperdub

“Autopsy by anecdote / Dissected memories and inside jokes”, raps Iceboy Violet on ‘Still’, an aching goodbye to a four-year relationship. They’ve spent the past nine songs performing that autopsy. Dense snapshot lyrics put us in their head state, somewhere between reflection and rumination. As always with grief, there aren’t easy answers. But that act of picking at the cadaver leads to Iceboy Violet’s most focused and affecting set of songs, one that honours the humanity of its subject through bare writing.

You Said You’d Hold My Had Through The Fire was made with Spanish producer, Nueen, whose monochrome palette is suited to this story. The two admired each other for the similarly vivid ambience to their beat-making. Soon, Nueen was sending over ideas, and a project began to take shape. The two have varied tastes: nocturnal club sounds from abandoned cities, ghostly takes on drill, flashes of dubstep, and autotune prayers. The record deals in the emotional specificity sounds conjure up, from the brutish and deadened bass notes on ‘Pixel Petels’ to the skin-tickling pads on ‘Inside My Head (interlude)’. It’s a no-brainer for Hyperdub, made obvious when the pair reverently sample vocals from Burial’s ‘Ghost Hardware’ on ‘SM_FID’.

Nueen leaves plenty of negative space for Iceboy Violet. They respond with gutsy and varied deliveries. On ‘Closer’, they’re snuggled up close to the mic, voice thick with vocal fry, half asleep. ‘Fragmentary (Eraser)’ instead opts for heightened warbles, lines delivered in exhausted runs. Here, they zoom in on those intimate moments and inside jokes through cryptic imagery, obscuring the meaning but not the feeling.

That obfuscation makes the moments of clarity more powerful. On ‘Everything Ends with an Inhale’, they search for blame, suggesting that even those inside the relationship won’t fully know why things fell apart: “Blood or wine / Signs of struggle / Passionate crimes / If what we had is sacred / Who plucked the fruit from the vine?”

The record’s most tender moment is wordless. ‘Fawning (Interlude)’ is presented as a raw recording of the couple cocooned together. Nueen’s floating chords capture them fixed in this moment of bliss. Like Yves Tumor’s cult hit, ‘Limerence’, the air of the room does the heavy lifting. In fact, the air of the room is always felt on You Said You’d Hold My Hand Through The Fire – in Iceboy Violet’s lyrics, in Nueen’s beats, in how their styles interact. That’s what makes it special. It holds those moments of love close so that if they become lost to time, there’s a document to prove they were there.

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