Hollan Holmes "Prayer To The Energy" 2xCD
I still keep in mind the wintery day in January 2011, when an unknown artist named Hollan Holmes introduced his debut album "A Distant Light" on the pages of EMPortal, featuring stunning self-made cover artwork. Sure, also the fact Steve Roach was credited as the mastering engineer added some extra curiosity into my explorations, but since then I have been closely following this talented Texan soundsculptor and visual artist. Over the years Hollan Holmes has released another 5 solo albums plus one collaborative project Common Ground together with Californian duo Resonant Drift. The path taken with "A Distant Light", when the aural part was masterfully accompanied by exceptional visuals, still keeps on blossoming with each self-released album and obviously "Prayer To The Energy" is no exception. Even more this time, when Hollan Holmes comes with his most ambitious project, a double album supported by his own paintings. "Prayer To The Energy" is out since the beginning of February 2017 and it comes in a nice glossy 6-panel eco wallet designed by the artist himself. Fellow Texan soundscaper Chad Kettering is credited for his mastering skills, as he does since Hollan Holmes' second album "The Farthest Fringes". Known for juxtaposing ear-tickling Berlin School memories with grandiosely expansive landscapes, Hollan Holmes has decided this time for monumental double set to separate his hallmarking sonic canvas.
Disc one is ignited by 6-minute title composition "Prayer To The Energy" and what a kickoff it is!!! Persistently glistening sequences fire up the show, swiftly galloping and soon joined by another vigorously engrossing layer, while warmly scenic washes slowly sneak in and cascade through hauntingly captivating elevations. A top-notch introduction!!! "Insulated" (btw, inside the eco wallet there is a painting of a glass insulator) is more mid-paced, yet still enough shimmeringly animated with some catchy crescendos thrown in and auxiliary permeating intangible meridians. "Darkness And Light" moves smoothly into serenely embracing terrains, highlighted by heartwarming, nearly poetic sequencer patterns painting intensely evocative longing vistas. What a beauty!!! "Great Expectations" surprises with its gentle electric guitar rawness, surrounded by leisurely emerging metallic percussive subtleties on the back, along with percolating orchestral glimmers and guarded by remotely ethereal choirs, while additional, poignantly enchanting tapestries navigate the composition into its finale. Wow, this is a truly magnificent piece of ambience!!! "Lucid Dreams" shifts into intenser, yet utterly enveloping cinematic solitudes, but pulsing quietudes arise and relentlessly traverse across. Celestial choir-like drones are riding atop, but eternal pulses clandestinely metamorphose into headlining magnitudes, dazzlingly lonesome at times, yet splendidly engrossing, before reuniting again with etheric drifts. A pure sonic ambrosia is served here! "That Ephemeral Spark" keeps on the orbit, but soon the journey is stolen by distinguishing blend of sequencer-driven traceries, slightly tribal fragranced aeonian beats and evocatively helixing melodic curtains. Another strikingly attractive composition! "We Can Never Go Back" reveals with impalpably tinkling contemplative throbs, though the center stage is leaded by sparklingly absorbing sequences coupled with picturesque spirals and glancingly resurrected intensified undercurrents. Richly textured sonic euphoria! The closer "A Midwinter Night's Dream", by far the longest piece on disc one reaching 19 and a half minutes (all other tracks are clocking between 4:58 and 7:27), was originally recorded for Chuck Van Zyl's Star's End radio program "2015 Winter Solstice Special". The track employs delicately pulsing joyful sequences backed by stargazing blankets, occasionally augmented by synthetic-driven rippling glimmers. Sublimely sweeping deep sky psalm wraps up this absolutely exhilarating ride, prodigiously ebullient and tremendously absorbing, yet always securely wired to authentic Berlin School incandescences with significantly ingenious insignias thrown in. Yes, disc one is triumphant indeed!!!
8 minutes long "The Suspension Of Time" unveils disc two with expansively gliding graceful washes, balmily encircling and awe-inspiringly evoking infinite spatial emptiness and loneliness. "Cloud World" shifts this serenely immersing odyssey into magnificently longing magnitudes, where Hollan Holmes masterfully merges imposingly multidimensional graciousness with perpetually pervading splendiferously ethereal choir-like drone layers and ephemeral transcendental dissonances. Pure aural bliss!!! "Cover Of Darkness", as indicated by its title, is swallowed by unfathomably spiraling enigmas, while inconspicuously emanating glimmers are guarding vast solitudes. And just the same with the composition, which is entitled "Sublime Stasis" and clocks over 9-minute mark. The listener is immediately bathed by heartwarmingly inviting, sonorously graceful and endlessly overwhelming horizons. The gates of sheer atmospheric beauty are unlocked!!! "Breathing" is driven by helically filigreeing subtleties, constantly overseen by tranquilly embracing and surreptitiously nuanced spellbinding drifts, sporadically reinforced by mildly magnifying movements. Nearly 20 minutes long ending track, "Cerro Torre", initially created for Star's End radio program "2016 Halloween Special", unfolds with desolate drone stratums fastidiously bridged with nebulously mindscaping vertexes, persistently delving into the deepest fissures of delightful drone Eden! Massively humming magmas join this splendor along with thrillingly jaw-dropping, choir-like charged cinematic sceneries, towards the end amalgamated with tumultuously outbursting organic apexes and titillatingly high-pitched dramatic sequencer glimpses. Wow, a truly breathtaking listening spectacle fully reveals its magic, as much adventurous and grandiose as majestically towering massif of Cerro Torre mountain in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. An epic grand finale!!!
Well, after all above words it's quite obvious this monstrously challenging and all-inclusive tour de force double album by Hollan Holmes has quickly became a very strong competitor for The Best Album of 2017!!! But I think this is not surprising anymore to all those ambient connoisseurs who are already familiar with exceptional gift, creative potential and spectacular multi-craft of this Texan artist. Your self-taught mastery is so inspirational for many others, Hollan, you have my deep respect for each of your sonic and visual jewels!!! 122-minute "Prayer To The Energy" is simply another milestone!!!
Richard Gürtler (Apr 23, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)
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