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Hollan Holmes — Emerald Waters
(Spotted Peccary SPM-4402, 2022, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-02-14

Emerald Waters Cover art

Holmes has been releasing music since around 2010, and after six private releases on Bandcamp, he released his first album for the Spotted Peccary Label, Milestones, in 2020. Now, two years on from that milestone, he returns with a new set of tunes that, while wholly electronic, seem to explore the natural world around him, and specifically those things related to water. Without any lyrics, the listener is free to interpret these eleven compositions any way they might choose, but clearly water was Holmes' primary inspiration for the set. While some floating and textural elements are employed, these pieces are firmly in the sequenced Berlin School style, and are at once bristling with energy, layered with vivid colors and a going through a constant stream of subtle shifts as each piece proceeds. One may be thinking, “Oh, I’ve heard everything by Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, do I really need to hear this?” and the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Emerald Waters employs many of the similar techniques for creating the sounds, but the ideas that propel them forward offer alternate melodic structures and strong emotional links to the composer’s personal experiences, a trait which shines through brightly on every piece here. A piece like “The River” truly conveys all the imagery, the brisk currents, shimmering reflections on the water and much more. The opener, “Hydroelectric,” uses multiple layers of sound, some very unusual and others seemingly familiar, but the layers are always building and changing, evolving in real time, pushing fresh ideas to the forefront while others slowly decay. With a solid structure and deep flowing pulses, “A Ribbon of Life” shimmers and meanders through numerous changes on its journey forward, making it one of the more unusual pieces in the set. The title track closes the set, with interesting and unusual rhythms building in the fabric of the sequenced patterns that slowly engulf the listener. Emerald Waters creates a universe of kinetic imagery based on the patterns of nature, and immerses the listener in it. You certainly won’t fall asleep listening to this.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Hollan Holmes

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