John Reidar Holmes creates music that works in all settings and transcends genres. His openness to a wide range of sound is what has both made him a widely loved favourite, but also someone who operates in his own parallel musical world. We had a chance to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest releases.
When did the idea of starting a project start to take shape? Has it always been something you wanted to do?
Since I was a kid I’ve wanted to work on music and make my own. Always and will continue until I check out.
How would you define the sound of your latest work? What is the concept behind?
See my previous answer on the Harmoniag.
What artists are you interested in these days?
I’m mostly into non-mainstream and leftfield artists right now. I listen to a lot of indie experimental artists who release music on labels that focus on modular synthesis and ambient music…. At the time of writing I’m listening to ‘The boy who Chose the Sea – The Seas Behind the Stars.’ https://theboywhochosethesea.bandcamp.com/album/the-seas-beyond-the-stars
I also listen a lot to jazz. Recently ‘The Comet is Coming’ and ‘Nubya Garcia’ have been played on my sound system a lot. I listen almost exclusivley to The Rolling Stones in my car, on CD…
How do you manage to combine such disparate genres? How do you manage to give them unity and harmony? What do they have in common for you?
Purpose and gut feeling
How would you define your sound?
David Guilmour’s long lost synthesizer guitarist gentle ambient love child.
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects?
At the moment I’m focusing on creating several releases and pitching them to labels that might be interested in generative ambient and ambient guitar music. They will involve the same instrumentation. No computer, one take recordings, in the moment and zone and in the stars.
BIO:Initially a blues and jazz guitarist rooted in the sounds of the British blues and psychedelic explosion of the 60s and 70s, John has been a member of several bands in the same genre. While being part of a band and playing, creating and performing in a group was a formative experience, the music of those projects was never as meditative or as deep as it could have been due to the multiple musical influences of the band members. The Forgotten Art of Living was his first full length solo album with a record label, Sores (Sound+Matter). There have been other solo projects but those have been released privately on Bandcamp. The current album, ‘Where Footprints Meet Beacons’ also marks a shift in genre and instrumentation with earlier releases.While earlier projects have been blues, rock and jazz orientated and performed on guitar and loop based synthesizers or a full rock band, ‘Where Footprints Meet Beacons’ is performed on a custom built modular synthesizer in the Eurorack format as well as electric guitar. Similar in style to his previous album ‘The Forgotten Art of Living’ but with a gentler sound. No digital software instruments were used and no overdubs were made in the recording process. When patched creatively and purposefully by the musician such a system can become self-playing and capable of unforeseen happy musical accidents. The system is both analog and digital, incorporating elements of both East and West Coast synthesis as well as modern digital modules focused on random sequenceing and modulation, physical modelling synthesis and granular FX processing. Technical jargon aside, the unit is capable of creating self playing and evolving musical soundscapes, drones and lush ambient music to listen and jam and dream away to.
«When Footprints Meet Beacons» is the most recent addition to the slowly growing Sound+Matter selection of John Reidar Holmes music. In recent years the Malmö-based artist has become a regular in our label, and that’s for a reason. His glacial paced ambient drones, created with a very straightforward but highly-mastered guitar and modular synth centered setup offer our listeners a much-needed sonic escape from a world that gets more messed up by the day. While certainly feeling experimental and otherworldly at its core, Holmes’ work somehow manages to remain accessible, personal, and humane. «When Footprints Meet Beacons» is an album that feels simultaneously distant and unknown but also welcoming and touching. John Reidar Holmes is not interested in busy arrangements, futuristic sound design, or the total deconstruction of timbre found in a lot of the current experimental music. Instead, he’s focused on the gradual unfolding and structuring of textures, harmonics, and tones. His synth and guitar take turns in going in and out of focus thus fully guiding or carefully adding nuance to the narrative of the record. Holmes’ transcending drones definitely shine at their brightest when experienced in an interrupted deep listening session so don’t be afraid to give yourself to the music and let go of… well, everything else.