Emerald Waters – Spotted Peccary Music SPM-4402
Water is a versatile substance that makes life as we know it possible. The album, Emerald Waters, of wonder elicits visions of layered power, is uplifting, contemplative and emotionally moving. There is considerable science in this celebration of the constant evolution of all the blips and beeps portraying fluid dynamics of futuristic relentlessness. In one word: Fantastiche!
1. About the album Emerald Waters
Sometimes people refer to water informally with its equivalent word in Spanish, agua, or the Latin phrase aqua pura, meaning a colorless, transparent, odorless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers, and rain and is the basis of the fluids of living organisms. Emerald Waters by Hollan Holmes has a sound very much of the time, if not ahead of it: limpid notes purr around our heads, a flying saucer has landed bringing a fresh perspective about life on Earth. Times are changing, threats are growing, and now more than ever we must work together to protect what remains of our oceans and groundwaters.
Close your eyes and become immersed in the soundscapes and transported to another state of mind, a most potent and pure combination of perception altering collection of pieces of music thrilling to the senses. This is music with a logical purpose, and there is always a progression. There are infinite freewheeling electronic sounds but there is an overall tonal framework. The story of water is explored methodically and not simply pulled out of the aether. Each track expands upon a water theme.
2. The tracks
The first track of Emerald Waters…
…is all about motion, with many things happening at once, creating a tapestry of powerful proud melodic punchy layers, calm on the surface but obviously very energetic below. The sound is a tight purposeful weave demonstrating sustainable energy in motion: “Hydroelectric” (6:10). Hydroelectricity, or hydroelectric power, is electricity produced from hydropower.
The second song title makes me think there will be violence, instead, what I hear is a peaceful and complicated fabric of tones and tempos, building to the gentle emergence of cycling melodic fragments, which obliquely nods to the notion of the grittiness and sprawl of West Texas.
Hell or High Water is a 2016 American neo-Western crime film, a moral drama that takes the measure of each destabilizing action as it shows us the spirit of American gun culture from the inside out. Emerald Water’s second track, “Hell or High Water” (6:47) probably also takes place in West Texas, building into increasing drama, first as undertones then its punchy resolution into free fall towards the end of the track.
Shorelines are the interface between water and land. They are the fragile and beautiful ties that bind these elements together, a cradle of creation, sustainer of species, and place of peace. Ribbons of life, where land, water, and air meet, are certainly worthy of protection. “A Ribbon of Life” (6:00) features a bouncy interplay, tonal contrasts in complicated sweeping liquid structures that build as layers gather, melodic forms wiggle and dance, which resolve into some interesting little creaky sounds at the end of the track.
Taking place in a fantasy world…
…”Tales from the Abyss” (7:15) evokes a future for the world for thousands of years to come. Listening, in my mind, we are thrown into a fjord none of us are familiar with. With hyperresonance and a rich tapestry of sound, we explore a wide sonic landscape. I hear a vast deep container filled with dark water, the feeling increases in expanse and darkness while the water boils on the surface. Not boiling with heat, but with power, roiling and tumbling with motion then sinking into calm depths, resolving into tidal surges and crashing surf reaching a melodic reflected light gentle finish.
“The River” (5:57) is a journey. The sound is of tireless strength and ancient presence. As the day progresses so does the activity, this is a working river, not drifting. Rivers have always meant geographical connections and furnished a means of transportation as well as fish for sustenance and liquid for refreshment. Sitting by the river one might ponder weighty conclusions about this gateway to a lot of the future, feeling the hope and the hardness and coldness of being alone. “Taken by the Current” (7:46) begins with the sparkling surface, a piano and electricity in the mix, you feel a building depth, then you realize you are caught up in the flow and allow it to keep you in its grasp. Hidden darkness emerges and prevails.
With a choral glow, “The Sublime Shimmer” (5:28) brings a sense of divine depth and layered cloths of light perceptible above the surface of the water. “Changing Course” (8:00) takes place underwater, with large currents and gyres, the size is huge. The feeling is deeper and slower, summoning a sense of swelling and motion with sparkling edges.
As a term for sea monster…
…Leviathan brings to mind a demonic sea serpent noted in theology and mythology and has also been used to refer to great whales in particular. “Leviathan” (7:49) begins with bubbly sounds which precede an energetic pulse and sustain at a rapid pace with great strength and power, visualize large aquatic creatures, a cetatean presence.
A fathom is a unit of length in the imperial and the U.S. customary systems equal to 6 feet (1.8288 m), used especially for measuring the depth of water. “Fathom” (7:44) exhibits tight construction as it takes us down and down into the dark open sea.
Water that moves does not require an engine; it is often powered by gravity. Think of water bounding, running and cascading with layers of kinetic energy, seeking ever lower depths to fill. The closer and title track, “Emerald Waters” (5:45), celebrates the endless options for modes of exploration and simple wonderment.
3. About Hollan Holmes
The artist Holmes has dedicated this album to The Devils River Conservancy (DRC), which is a community of advocates dedicated to treasure, preserve and protect the Devils River, its springs, and the lands within its water catchment area.
Emerald Waters offers 1h 14m 40s of all the colors of the blue and green spectrum and is inspired by the Berlin School Electronic Music, with its sharper, icier precision and fascination with melody and repetition and textures, and with implied messages about technology’s impact on the planet.
4. Where to buy the album Emerald Waters?
Written by Robin James, January 15th, 2022