Review by Stewart Mason
Toronto electro-rockers Holy Fuck are clearly banking on the continued rise of satellite radio, because they're just not gonna get that far in a broadcast world still under FCC restraints. The eight lengthy songs on their debut album are largely improvised, with two drummers (one of them, surprisingly, Glenn Milchem from the languid AAA country-rockers Blue Rodeo) and three keyboardists creating completely rhythm-oriented instrumental grooves that are introduced, percolate around for five to eight minutes with little variation, and then recede. So melody and lyricism are entirely beside the point here, but what makes Holy Fuck something far more interesting than the average LCD Soundsystem knockoff is the album's thrillingly live feel. In a style of music that's mostly created by pressing buttons and manipulating touch screens, the drummer-powered, live-in-the-studio feel of Holy Fuck provides both musical excitement and textural variety missing from most similar electro-dance albums.
[Young Turks; 2007]
"Find something in the trash... plug it in": So reads the message next to the photo at the top of Holy Fuck's MySpace, and it's a good starting point for describing their sound. Founded by Toronto musicians Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh in 2004, the band's basic setup is simple: a ton of drums, keyboards, and electronic noise generators. All of their instrumental music is created through a process of improvisation and refinement, and the lineup is somewhat elastic from show to show, which adds an extra element of unpredictability to the development of each piece.
I felt that their 2005 debut, while it had a few jaw-dropping moments, demonstrated mostly potential, but you can pretty much forget potential on LP. This album is leagues better than the debut, an exciting blend of aggressive rhythm and nuanced, skillfully manipulated noise. The band has developed every song on the record and captured them in raw, live performance (in the case of opener "Super Inuit", in front of an audience). The result is frequently exhilarating, a cyborg dance party for a broken future that's closer than you think.
One of the band's greatest assets is its dual drummers. By having more than one guy at a kit, Holy Fuck give themselves a rhythmic foundation that's at once solidly in the pocket, incredibly loud, and versatile enough to embellish the songs without losing the lockstep groove at the album's heart. One of the album's biggest and most pleasant surprises is "Lovely Allen", the most song-like thing the band has done and certainly the prettiest-- though I'd be remiss to call it pretty without also explaining that the brutal ugliness of the rest of the arrangement is what makes the keyboard melody sound so exceptionally beautiful. Most of these songs incorporate at least one bit of rhythmic keyboard programming to further unite the drums with the buzzing, whooshing clouds of ambient sound spilling over the top.
Though it's taken from multiple recording sources, the album sounds reasonably unified, mostly because the important thing is to capture the group at its rawest and most inspired, which it consistently does. We often say casually that bands are "awesome" without thinking about the true meaning of the word-- Holy Fuck actually inspire awe during their best moments.
-Joe Tangari, November 14, 2007