Hollan Holmes — „Emerald Waters“ (14th Feb., 2022)
∩• Není to poprvé, co hypnotické pohyby vody inspirovaly umělce — nehledejte nic jiného než Debussyho La Mer — ale tento prvek je zjevně šitý na míru žánru tak zásadně zakořeněnému v pulsaci a plynutí. Holmesův talent jasně přesahuje jeho značné programátorské a zvukové schopnosti; vyrůstal v domácnosti s klavírem a člověk předpokládá, že to může mít něco společného s jeho talentem na melodické sekvence a kompoziční struktury.
Album release: 14th Feb., 2022
Record Label: Spotted Peccary
01. Hydroelectric 6:10
02. Hell or High Water 6:47
03. A Ribbon of Life 6:00
04. Tales from the Abyss 7:15
05. The River 5:57
06. Taken by the Current 7:46
07. The Sublime Shimmer 5:28
08. Changing Course 8:00
09. Leviathan 7:49
10. Fathom 7:44
11. Emerald Waters 5:45
• Mastered by Howard Givens at Spotted Peccary Studios, Portland, OR
• Frio River, Garner State Park TX
• Devils River at Baker’s Crossing, HWY 163, TX
• San Filipe Creek, Del Rio, TX
∩• Two details about Emerald Waters, Hollan Holmes’ second album for Spotted Peccary, invite mention before anything else. Both have to do with inspiration: first of all, the origin for the album itself can be traced to an epiphany he experienced years ago on a drive across a Del Rio, Texas bridge when he found himself riveted by the brilliant blues and greens of the creek below; in his own words, “That ten seconds stuck with me my entire life.” Secondly, inspiration more generally for the Texas~based electronic artist comes from Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream, whose music he discovered early on and whose influence has proven to be pivotal and enduring. One need look no further than Emerald Waters to find evidence of their impact on his sensibility and approach. If the project is a celebration of water in all its ineffable, life~sustaining glory, it might also be seen as an homage to the great synthesizer artists who came before him.
•∩ On Holmes’ full~length follow~up to 2020’s Milestones, numerous softwares and hardwares — all identified on the package’s inner sleeve — are deployed in the service of eleven dreamscapes. It turns out, however, that that term is a less imperfect fit for his music than for others within the genre. While some tracks on the album do possess ambient qualities, the most memorable pieces are those with a strong melodic dimension and developmental compositional and emotional arcs. Stated otherwise, some of the album’s standout pieces are those that have as much in common with songs as soundscapes.
∩• At the outset, “Hydroelectric” brings into focus his love for classic, analog~driven synthesizer music and distortion~free sound design. The track less eases the album in than starts it off on an anthemic high when swelling atmospheres and muscular rhythms give the material dynamic thrust. The synthesizer timbres chiming through “A Ribbon of Life” and “The River” suggest that Kraftwerk (circa Trans Europe Express) also exerted a powerful influence on Holmes. “The River” and “Changing Course” similarly show that as much as Holmes’ music is often grandiose, it’s sometimes gentle too, and all the better for including such a dimension. One of the album’s loveliest exercises in uplift is “The Sublime Shimmer,” which builds from its choir introduction into a towering, swoon~inducing epic before returning to soothing vocalizations. On the more epic tip are “Hell or High Water” and “Leviathan,” both of which percolate with furious intent. Perhaps the highest compliment one could pay Holmes is to say that “Taken by the Current” and the title track could pass for Stratosfear~era Tangerine Dream travelogues and exude a grandeur to match.
•∩ It’s not the first time the hypnotic movements of water have inspired an artist — look no further than Debussy’s La Mer — but the element’s obviously tailor~made for a genre so fundamentally rooted in pulsation and flow. Holmes’ talents clearly extend beyond his considerable programming and sound design abilities; he grew up in a home with a piano, and one presumes that that might have something to do with his gift for melodic sequences and compositional structures. (February 2022)