Tuesday, 3 January 2012

I’m writing this as we plunge through the darkest part of winter. The nights are beginning to shorten again, and summer is on its way once more, even though it may be a long while before it shows its face. Luckily, at least for me, music that feels like summer doesn’t have to only be played in summer. Enter Holika.

A three piece band currently working out of the musical crucible that is Bristol, Holika really are something else. Now before I’m accused of hyperbole, let me state that this is a literal statement too; they really are completely different in that they remind me of many musicians and acts, and yet manage to be something more than a crazy amalgam of styles and influences.

The first track I had a listen to was Corner of A Circle. It’s a mellow, very chilled out number, with emphasis on the lilting and intricate melody on the acoustic guitar that reminded me of a melody that wouldn’t be amiss in an Andy McKee track, mixed with the Hawaiian vibe of classic Jack Johnson. Like I say, crazy.

This approach can also be applied to the song writing process Holika appear to have as well. If you’re looking for formulaic, well, I think you’re probably on the wrong music site to begin with (the Official Top 40 is over there somewhere...), and you aren’t going to find it in Holika’s music. While it’s never going to be everyone’s cup of tea, I find the wandering ‘ooh-this-could-be-interesting-lets-just-go-over-here-and-do-this’ approach to writing music refreshing to say the least. That’s how I’d describe Corner of A Circle in all honesty. Refreshing, chilled, playfully lazy - like an early summer morning.

Bamboo starts in a very similar way, same vibe, but now with more electric drones and beats, which means a much more complex rhythm that only enhances Holika’s randomness quotient. Vocals take more of a focus this time around, which work really well. Full of husky, close harmony appeal, they gently soar over the top of the groove and riffs going on in the accompaniment. But even with these extra quirks, the same atmosphere still exists; it’s still mellow, still mostly chilled out, still reminding me of sunshine. The latter is especially welcome in all this rain beating on my window. Definitely turning the music up for the next track.

Hunter’s Hands rounds out Holika’s debut EP, and is as close to straight forward as these guys are going to get. To be honest, the track has the same vibe as the last two, but now the rhythm isn’t quite so complex, it has much more foot-tapping appeal. I think I’m actually typing this in perfect rhythm with the track, that’s how infectious it is. Personally, this one is my favourite on the EP; it perfectly highlights Holika’s strengths. The crazy jumbling of folk tradition, progressive structure and alternative instrumentation with an infusion of pure sunshine and cheeriness is just one of those strengths.

So far, Holika only have their debut EP ‘Demonstrations’, available online across their official website, Facebook Page, and Reverbnation page, but 2012 looks incredibly bright for these guys, and I look forward to finding more material by them floating around in the cloud very soon. In the mean time, if you’re looking for something cheery to dispel the gray skies and the back to work blues, you could do so much worse than Holika.   

Review by Paul Barnes

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