Every once in a while, I’ll come across an album that is so profoundly moving and personally resonant that it leaves me utterly speechless. This time, it’s a double album clocking in at over two hours, titled Prayer to the Energy, by ambient-electronic music composer, as well as fine artist, Hollan Holmes. With a title and accompanying cover art that appears to be a nod to Nikola Tesla, one might get the impression upon first glance that the music herein is rather observational in nature, and while that’s true, each piece is also deeply emotive and incredibly haunting without ever becoming morose. Comprised of fourteen flawless compositions, Prayer to the Energy is Hollan’s sixth release, as well as his first recording that employs both vintage and digital analog hardware synthesizers, with the first part of the album largely centered around dynamic electronic sequencer passages, and the second part offering up a deep space excursion.
Fluidly shimmering sequencers open the title track, “Prayer to the Energy”, which are soon joined by emerging layers of lush chord progressions underscored by a pulsating bassline; all seemingly evolving in a circular rotation like electrical sparks flashing upon a dark, gravitational whirlpool. Immediately beguiling the listener, the rest of the album continues in this motif, with “Insulated” offering up dynamically swirling textures that seemingly conjure real-time images of atomic particles and molecules. While there isn’t a weak link among this perfectly stunning album, I certainly came away with a few favorites; among these include “Darkness and Light”, a supremely gorgeous composition that softly treads into chill-out territory, as drifty piano notes wash over a pristine electronic soundscape. Easily one of the most affective pieces of music I’ll have heard all year, this tantalizing passage is mysteriously evocative of beholding an evening ocean tide, as waves of bioluminescent plankton magically light-up the shoreline. “Lucid Dreams” is another standout with its subtly churning sequencers and languid keyboard notes, which seemingly emerge from the ether as they steadily move across a vast expanse. Equally enthralling is “The Ephemeral Spark”, a piece that reminds me a bit of Norwegian electronic music composer Erik Wøllo, likewise conveying images of a cold, isolated northern landscape. Bearing further reminiscence with its textural guitar sounds, subtly echoing percussion and floating bed of sequencers, this gently melodic composition lends itself to a melancholic and pensive mood that permeates the listening space. Concluding our first part of the journey is the engrossingly sublime, “A Midwinter Night’s Dream”, which clocks in at over nineteen minutes. Beckoning from afar like the call of distant cosmic voices, this indescribably beautiful piece conveys a sense of having become dissolved among the primordial essence of the universe itself.
Introducing the second part of the album is “The Suspension of Time”, as misty drones appear to extend across the furthest reaches of tangible limits. “Cloud World” follows with an encompassing haze that seemingly enshrouds a landscape that is both familiar and alien. Slipping further into a foreboding atmosphere is “Cover of Darkness”, which comfortably evokes a sensation of slowly descending into an immeasurable spatial abyss. Closing out the album at almost twenty minutes is “Cerro Torre”, in which the eventual re-emergence of subtle sequencers towards the end of this long-form piece signals a returning to our original destination.
Culminating in a truly unforgettable listening experience, every composition on Prayer to the Energy is spectacularly arranged, as Hollan continually layers new textures over rather simple yet deeply affecting chord progressions throughout. In fact, just the very notion that these inexplicably beautiful sounds could be created by modern machines seems miraculous in of itself. That they are emanating from the incredible mind of a sentient being is even more incomprehensible. Sitting on par with the greatest ambient-electronic works ever recorded, this album particularly recalls some of the finest outputs by Erik Wøllo and Steve Roach. As someone who first discovered ambient/electronic music as child, as well as having since amassed quite a collection over the years, I can assuredly conclude that Prayer to the Energy is destined to become one of my favorite albums of all time!