Until today I had never heard of Hollow Water. Alan Cookson (keyboards) and Huw Roberts (guitars) are the “founding fathers” of this band from Wales. Officially it is a duo, but for this album they got help of the following talented musicians: Velvet Jones, PG Bailey, Tarnia Jones & Darren Deans (vocals), Jair-Rohm Parker Wells & Damjan Kapor aka Stryfer (bass guitar), Siros Vazir (drums), Matt Quistorf, Federico aka Mrfedmusic (guitars), Steve Giddings (lap steel guitar), Nate Madsen, Ilia Skibinsky (saxophone).
I know for sure that many progressive rock musicians dream of making a concept album. We all know the examples of bands which succeeded in making such an album. When you make your debut with a concept album, then you have courage. A perfect album must have a story line, atmospheres that fits to one another etc. To start this review right on, Hollow Water made a great album. After listening several times to the album, I am more or less “jealous”. A friend and I, are also trying to write songs for a concept album, accidentally we have the same formation (guitars and keyboards). After listening to Hollow Water's Rainbow's End, I have the perfect example how such a job has to be done.
Rainbow's End has a science fiction theme. Three acquaintances who form a team, are searching for a rainbow which stays all the time. They embark on a comedy adventure which leads to a strange dimension where light does different things to here on earth. The album is accompanied by a 20-page booklet. This booklet contains an 8-page comic book, which is drawn by Aidan Kelly. I have to confess the booklet looks good.
The album starts with a radio presenter. He gives the results of a pub quiz. After that you hear somebody start a car and drive away. The first song Day In Day Out then starts with a David Gilmour like guitar part. The complete song is instrumental. After that the radio presenters start to talk once more. They announce Hollow Water's next song Mirror's Frame. The song is a typically 70s song in the style of Kansas.
Rainbow's Begin continues in the 70s style. There are a lot of psychedelic influences. Keyboards and guitars are leading. Gathering Sunbeams For The Future is a crossover song. Muse meets Pink Floyd, I would say. The Quantum Mechanic And The Map Collector starts with a keyboard intro, which have some electro house influences. The mid- and end sections have strong bonds with Yes. Even the guitar part has parallels with Steve Howe.
Rainbow's End has a long guitar orientated intro. The rest of the song is once more 70s psychedelic. Again I recognize some Yes influences, but in this case also a Muse like flavour. The guitar parts sound groovy and sharp. Trick Of The Light starts with a very dark intro. Once more various influences can be found in this song. The guitar solo is influenced by David Gilmour, the rest of the song has 70s atmospheres and a touch of Muse. The song Immortal Portal has an intro of electronic beats. The keyboard parts are also electronically orientated. The vocals remind me of Duran Duran. I have to confess that the vocal parts are strong on this whole album.
Solar Beacon and The Light Dimension are both songs with strong beats and hollow vocals. Both songs sound a little messy. Illusions & Delusions has an intro in which electronic beats are mixed up with Hammond organ sounds. I like this very much. The vocals are great. I think this is my favorite song.
The album ends with We Changed. This World Didn't. The song is rather up tempo and has beautiful keyboards atmospheres. The guitar solo in the middle is fabulous. Steve Vai meets Andy Latimer I would say.
Conclusion is that Hollow Water have made a sublime debut album. It's an album which will be hard to surpass. I am curious what the future will bring, and I am even more curious how this band sounds live. Time will tell!
****+ Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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