Review : Holy Sons - Survivalist Tales!
PopmattersHoly Sons is the solo project of Emil Amos, drummer for instrumental post-rock Americana band Grails, as well as the Sleep dirge-metal offshoot, Om. Amos is a busy man, consistently producing albums with all of these three incarnations. Each Holy Sons album represents a collection of work recorded over the period of a few years, the current one bringing together tracks from 2007-2010. Survivalist Tales! continues in the same vein of dark, moody, slow-tempo folk-inspired songs that has characterized all of the Holy Sons output.
Holy Sons’ music really bears the mark of being a solo project. Each song sounds like it has been constructed over time, layer by layer, individually. The most admirable thing about Amos’s songwriting is his willingness to leave empty space in his songs, even though multiple tracks of vocals and instruments go into each composition. Since the songs are so slow and Amos records them by himself (over time), the empty space they incorporate may be easier to come by than it would be with a group of other musicians. Each note seems to take a breath before moving on the next.
The songs are also very quiet—there’s no need to shout over yourself. The hushed sound almost recalls a smooth soul album from the ‘70s, with soft drum taps, acoustic guitar accents, and nearly swallowed vocals. But the music is hard to categorize; it escapes encapsulation. For example, “Slow Days” works itself into an emotional grandeur that uses very played out symphonic sounds, changing from minor to major with sentimentality typical of mainstream radio. Amos also does a weird cover of the Troggs’ “From Home” that sounds nothing at all like the original—to the point of excluding the chorus. Instead of a backbeat romper, the song becomes a trip-hop downer....full text
Music.is-amazingEmil Amos, world renowned as drummer of the illustrious experimental rock groups Om and Grails, has an increasingly prolific, though relatively unknown, solo career under the moniker Holy Sons. Home recording over 1000 songs since the project's inception in 1992, Amos has spent the better part of the last two decades honing his song writing and production skills over a wide swath of genres in a mission to capture his internal world sonically. Only a handful of shows have ever been played under the name (including opening stints for Quasi, Devendra Banhart, Will Oldham, J Mascis, Daniel Johnson, and a show at a community center in Dharmasala, India) and none of the records have been traditionally promoted, developing a dedicated underground fan-base through word of mouth alone.
"Survivalist Tales" is Holy Sons' 9th record, and represents the apex of Emil Amos' obsession to push stylistic genres to their breaking point while wrenching psyche-anthems out of the darkest frontiers of self-confrontation. The songs are a seemingly impossible blend of nightmarish Blade Runner-esque moog music with the darkest side of 70's easy-listening psyche and feature some of the most unabashedly soaring choruses Amos has ever put to tape. Combining avant-sound collage with lyrics culled from the hard-won truths of self-exploration, Survivalist Tales builds a beautiful imagining of future music. For the first time ever Amos is poised to present the project publicly; this upcoming tour can legitimately be described as Holy Sons first tour....full text
SpikemagazineA pioneer of laptop-bedroom DIY, Emil Amos has been water-against-stoning at this project for 2 decades now, when not busy drumming for the experimental bands Om and Grails. Actually the songwriting count for this project is at the 4-digit mark, meaning many, many ideas died so that this could exist, a magnum-opus of no-BS underground-alt. I’m not Pitchfork, thankfully, and therefore don’t have to pretend I’ve heard every note of this project’s oeuvre; what I can tell you is that it makes me want to babble things about eels and Neil Young in the same breath. Amos’s voice is like a young Mark Oliver Everett’s, and the dragging drone of From Home is like Needle and the Damage Done, sort of, is what I’m saying. But that’s a first indelible impression is all; there’s an odd epic sweep to the proceedings here, like a choral marriage of Pavement and Postal Service with everyone wearing horned Viking helmets. He’s opened for Devendra Banhart, if that helps make up your mind, not that a one-armed juggling midget would be the strangest thing at those gigs....full text
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