Riverhood is the first studio release by brother/sister duo Holobody. It’s likely that they’ve been collaborating since childhood on tree forts and sand castles. Riverhood is well composed. Its tracks are like ten Russian dolls, each housing a smaller variation of the original. Another variation houses another variation, which finally houses something edible. And by edible, I mean audibly digestible. The deeper you let yourself slide into Riverhood’s fog-filled soundscape the less distracted you become by its genre bending and disproportionate halves. From indie pop, to spoken word, hip hop and electric loops–the dots are all well connected.
Riverhood could easily exist as an instrumental album. Each track is so rich (instrumentally speaking) that the vocals are nearly foreshadowed by mountain upon mountain of digital loops, effects, sound bytes and beats. Holobody gives tracks room to breath with lengthy instrumental bridges and taffy stretched outros. The bass lines are heavy, expressive and head nodding. Simple acoustic string play accentuates the foggy electric accompaniment parceled throughout. It’s reminiscent of Beck or The Flaming Lips where a few simple acoustic guitar chords seem to escape the folk genre.
Felix Green and Sea Oleena (Luke and Charlotte Loseth) explore vocal techniques, merging spoken word, harmonies and freestyle verses. Sea Oleena’s imagination is playful, lighthearted and odd. On the track “Hurricane Season” she spits, “…and no I’m not asleep in this impossible heat I’m on a balcony hallucinating lucid dreams….” She has a great talent for creating visuals.
This album slowly burgeons into a something more definable; it’s a carousel of pop, complete with unicorns and flying elephants. Riverhood borrows from a variety of music backgrounds without creating something like Frankenstein’s monster. It tastefully borrows different elements so the ride is enjoyable and hardly distracting.
Holobody does what more indie pop albums should do. They allow their instrumentals to explore entire tracks unfettered. These occurrences, while arguably filler, sound more genuine and less torpid than simply setting the synth to “loop.” Listen to the instrumental track “Procession”, but start at “Prelude”. Holobody builds up to an instrumental soundscape with a bit of lyric filler, rather than the other way around.
The album wraps up with an ode to gospel, covering “Down To The River To Pray”. It’s the most simple song on the album, composed of vocal harmonies, simple guitar chords and a little low end string work. It’s a gospel equivalent to Jeff Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah” and not as heart-wrenching but very uplifting.
Holobody’s Riverhood is going to fit perfectly, right between your M83 and Tennis albums. As summer nears you’ll most likely become more acquainted with this bright, somewhat ethereal indie-pop super duo. At the very least, listen to “Down To The River To Pray”, because we could all use a little more gospel.