Upon first discovering the name of Toronto’s finest experimental electronic rock group, Holy F*ck, one might be turned off by the perceived crassness and obscenity. But after listening to some of the band’s material, it should become clear that those two words form what is likely the most common reaction to hearing the band. Holy F*ck’s music is unique, and at times, mind-blowing — so much so that uttering an obscenity might be the only way to express the awe one feels. Holy F*ck might also be the first word’s out of a listener’s mouth when he or she learns that the band creates its complex sound without the use of looping and programming, which are standard (and for many artists, a crutch) in electronic music. Either way, it’s not just the band’s name that will garner attention for the group when their next album, Latin, hits stores on May 11. This album would have made a name for any band.
“MD,” the album’s opener, does what a great first track should do — builds slowly, creating a sense of anticipation and offering a little calm before the storm. Sustained synth notes float over crackling feedback and tight cymbal rolls, giving a bit of a Sigur Ros-esque feel to the song. Each second that goes by brings more momentum to the table, and the sound builds until “MD” seems ready to burst. The final seconds introduce some steady percussion and turntable action, which flow right into “Red Lights.”
This track brings a funky bass riff to the forefront, and synthesizer notes swirl around the bass and some driving snare and cymbal. The bass steps back occasionally, providing a steady beat at times before jumping back into the fray with a killer groove. The feel of the song transitions around changes in the percussion, with different snare work ushering in different-sounding sections. All of the instrumentation comes together very well here, and the bass is truly impressive and catchy.
“Latin America” keeps the tempo up, with some high-pitched, video game-like notes at the beginning that eventually are replaced by sustained synthesizer. Some bassy notes bounce in and take the lead before a percussion break and a section in which snare and cymbal take prominence. Throughout the track, there’s great interaction between the “old school” simple percussion and the more modern electronic instruments, and that gives “Latin America,” as well as the album as a whole, a cool, transcendent sound.
The next track, “Stay Lit,” features an electronic piano line backed by percussion. Additional instruments add some flair to the somewhat simple, repeating riff, and eventually some distorted bass kicks in, imparting an ominous but definitely interesting sound. The song hits a heavy, deliberate breakdown about halfway through, then picks up again and chugs along to the end, building momentum through a big crescendo to the finish.
“Silva & Grimes” sounds a bit silly coming after such an epic end to the last track, with some bouncy, repetitive notes over light cymbal work. Eventually, some synthesizer and snare drop in, giving the track a fuller sound, though the bouncy sound remains. The instrumentation swells toward the middle of the track, creating a massive wall of sound that gradually fades away. The song speeds up after this and rockets to the end.
“SHT MTN” brings some distorted synthesizer to the mix, backed by a healthy dose of cowbell and some other instruments and the occasional electronic squeal. There’s a feeling of fuzziness and distortion throughout, and some barely distinguishable, repetitive vocals in the background on this one, so it’s a bit bizarre. But that doesn’t stop this one from being great; the only possible complaint would be that the track is too short at 2:51.
The following song, “Stillettos,” might alternatively have been titled “Staccatos,” because rapid-fire bass strumming can be heard throughout. The bass drives the song forward, while synthesizers float over top and percussion keeps the tempo pushing ahead. The bass eventually settles down and pulses in and out as some oscillating synthesizer jumps to the forefront. The tempo picks back up after a while and all of the instruments are layered for the finish.
“Lucky” begins with a very funky beat and a lot of electronic sounds over some great syncopated percussion. This track is very catchy and has a unique sound, making it stand out on this album. It’s a different feel, but still definitely a good one — just a bit of an industrial edge. The volume and intensity swells and ebbs throughout, giving it a diverse set of dynamics and providing some added interest.
The album’s final track, “P.I.G.S.”, kicks off with some muted percussion and synthesizer riffs bouncing in and out. Different instruments trade off the lead on this track, but it all flows together very well. The track suddenly drops into a very slow, almost haunting break during the middle of the song, but the instruments gradually build up again and get the rhythm pulsing toward the finish.
Holy F*ck may attract a lot of listeners with their unique name, but the band’s great music keeps them coming back for more. Each track packs in a ton of instrumentation, varied rhythms and great melodies. This is clearly a band with a lot of talent and creativity, and they create a wide variety of sounds and emotions on this all-instrumental album. Even if you’re not into electronic music, listening to LATIN may indeed have you gasping, “Holy F*ck, this is good.”
You can download Holy F*ck – Latin right here.