Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Holy Fuck LP Latin

Just as a general proposition, I’m going to assert that the Best Thing about Holy Fuck is the pummeling: When the real drumming & the synthetic percussive-type noises reach a sort of critical mass, & then everything together all of a sudden is a blur. A raucous & forceful & ecstatic, pummeling blur. That’s the Best Thing.

Historically, the other Best Thing about Holy Fuck has been their sort of giddy freneticism, their madcap ethos. The songs have had a Rube-Goldbergy, slapdash quality to them &, not incidentally, a pervasive sense of humor. The Holy Fuck sound has been vigorous, lusty & hard, but nonetheless delightfully silly. While waiting on pins & needles for the new album, I went back & spent some time with their first, self-titled EP. I was noticing how, here & there amongst all the pointedly-cheesy synthesizing & the sweaty/brawny percussionizing (aka: the pummeling), you hear these effusive, mortal exhalations. A sigh, a pant, a whoot.


HF - Tone Bank Jungle mp3

That’s charming & amusing. It also serves as a neat little counterpoint to all the electronica, a reminder that this is human music albeit (I’ve said this before) all dressed up to sound machine-made. A ten-year-old boy in a robot suit, threatening world domination from inside the tinfoil & duct tape.

Anyway, the new album is called Latin, I have it now & you will soon too, probably. It’s not the kind of thing you want to miss. You’ll find, however, that Holy Fuck are now changing up the approach in a few different ways.

Importantly, the pummeling is alive & intact, so no worries there.

Absent now though are all those comic glimpses of the man behind the curtain –no gasps, no howls. Nor do we get the sudden veering from one trajectory to another –the quick, jerky starts & stutters. Instead, Latin exhibits a kind of ruthless efficiency, an almost-brutal pragmatism. Each of the songs here stakes out its territory within the first moments, cleanly & clearly. & then proceeds to just thrash boldly thrash thoroughly right through to the end. No hesitancy, no incongruous detours. There is still playfulness here, but more in the conception than in the execution.

Notably, there is also some dalliance with Disco (& other dance-beat variants) going on here. Which can play as arch & incongruous, but mostly only if you expect something different because you already know you’re hearing Holy Fuck. Otherwise, the simulation (irony assumed here to some negotiable extent) can get to be too accurate, & the juxtapositional aspect gets lost. So, there are missteps on Latin, if mostly minor ones. But hey: it’s an Experimental band taking risks. That’s the territory.

By now, you have almost definitely already heard the muscular meat & potatoes of the first single, “Latin America.” (& if not, just go here & get it now.) That song stands firmly on the shoulders of prior work & it’s satisfying & comfortable. If you know the band however, you’ll be more surprised by “Stay Lit,” for e.g., which is as close to like a power-ballad as this band is (probably) ever going to get. Which let's face it is a little weird. & in point of fact, a number of the pieces here just sound a lot more like, well, songs than any of Holy Fuck’s past work. So, while rhythm & texture remain the prime elements, you’re going to hear more melody, & you’re even going to hear some flirtation with vocals.

I will anticipate the obligatory objections to this album, at least to the extent it’s understood as taking a step toward “conventionality.” Whatever that even means anymore. I will confess to having bristled initially & more than once on first hearing this album. But, having spent some time now with Latin, most of it works. & what works, works very, very well.

I have not yet seen Holy Fuck play live, which I understand to be pretty much essential. Summer (& beyond) tour dates are planned. The San Francisco stop will be June 8 at the Independent. Here’s a taste from Latin:


HF - Positive Ghosts mp3

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bill,

    I have to say that I agree with most of your points here and 'Latin' has grown on me very quickly so its almost up there with 'LP'. Having seen Holy Fuck twice (theres a review on Sonic Fiction), its is an essential and ever improving experiance.

    I'm sorry that I haven't been in touch via e-mail but if you still want to chat then I'm up for that.

    Keep up the good work.