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The Holy Family — Go Zero
(Bandcamp Rocket recordings Launch 306, 2023, CD / DL / LP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-02-23

Go Zero Cover art

Just to set expectations at the outset, this is not religious music, in fact The Holy Family is a British five-piece plus guests that may involve some familiar names for many Exposé readers: keyboardist, percussionist and vocalist David J. Smith, guitarist Kavus Torabi, and pianist / keyboardist Emmett Elvin were all members of Guapo at the time of their 2015 album Obscure Knowledge (their most recent recording as of this writing), plus drummer Joe Lazarus and bass guitarist Sam Warren. Recording engineer Antti Uusimaki guests, adding some additional synthesizers. One might add another set of expectations: in spite of the band membership, this doesn’t really come off sounding that much like Guapo either, although there are some strong stylistic hints throughout the album’s eight tracks, you won’t find those near album length tracks like in the Guapo canon, in fact the fifteen-minute three part title track is the longest thing here, while the other numbers are all around five or six minutes, and that pretty much applies to the earlier self-titled Holy Family debut as well, even though that stretches out across a double LP. In the grooves of Go Zero, a listener will find an intense and often complex mix of swirling, pulsating sounds that seem to be informed by zeuhl, cosmische and twisted psychedelic elements, all trying to reach higher and higher in the mix, while the vocals are nothing short of manic — if there are lyrics, most of the time they seem well beyond comprehension, coming at you in multiple malevolent layers with full-on effects. There is only one member (Smith) credited with vocals, so what one hears on tracks like “Bad Travelling” or the opener “Crawling Out” for example, is a heavily processed and compressed vocal track that shouts an evil and threatening uncalm out of the dark psychedelic wilderness, reminiscent of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum in their prime. The unbridled sonic density of most of the pieces here will surely stun the listener, but then there are always exceptions to the rule, and here it’s the gentle calm of “The Watcher,”  which offers many layers of voices without the dark malevolence and foreboding. Go Zero is an irresistible, dense, and complex organism.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): The Holy Family

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