With his fourth album, Incandescent, Hollan Holmes offers up more of his signature sound, equal parts sequencer and spacemusic. While I’ve enjoyed the album the many times I’ve listened, I’d say that it lags about a step behind Holmes’ last couple of releases. Typically, something in his work has really grabbed hold of me, really made me sit up and pay attention. I don’t get that here, but I find myself fairly content to just coast along with the sound. “First Light” gives us some velocity and old-school vibe with its intersecting lines, but never breaks out into something bigger. Same with “Letting Go.” The blend of pads and sequencer lines is well made on this track, and Holmes thickens it up a little with a low-end motif, but it feels very neutral. When he switches into purely pad-based territory with “The Inevitability of Change,” he gets my attention more. This is a deep flow, spacey and calm. He keeps this sense going in “Ancient Atmosphere,” reaching for more low-end chords for a solid dramatic feel that doesn’t forsake the breath-slowing cadence we’ve entered into. Mid-track he works in a change of tone that roughens up the ride like turbulence, then eases back out of it toward the close—a great transition. A mis-step for me here is “Interstellar Lullaby,” which a bit too standard-issue New Age-ish for me. The sound is thin and too familiar. Thematically, yes, it’s on point. For me as a listener, it’s too breezy and obvious.
Incandescent is definitely an album ambient and spacemusic lovers should check out. If you are not yet familiar with Hollan Holmes’ work, it’s a decent intro. Having listened to him from the start, however, and having been a solid proponent of his work, this one pulls up just a touch short for me by comparison. The last 25 minutes or so, as covered by the three closing tracks, work best for me, and I will confess to upping the volume on the sequencer-driven pieces more than once. Have a listen.
Available from Hollan Holmes’ web site.