I can’t brag enough about my tendency to leave my shire in search of quality music, but when I usually do not, good music comes looking for me, as in this case, since my name was put across by none other than Textures’ Joe Tal. When Harry Holzhauer sent me a copy of his new offering “Emulating Felicity”, there were two thoughts on my mind: Firstly, What kind of music does Holz write and whatever it is, will it be within my forte? And secondly: Holy Ghost of Hanneman! Isn’t Netherlands looking better and better as a retirement resort?! Football (Call it SOCCER, I dare you, I double dare you MOTHERTHALLER!!), haven for funky smoke materials, the scenery and kickass Heavy Metal, what else can you ask for?
Boosting Netherlands’ tourism aside, “Emulating Felicity” is the third offering from one man project Holz, the previous two being “March of the Storms” and “Shizu”. “Emulating Felicity” builds on the Experimental Metal template acquiring influences from a plethora of genres. The Meshuggah influence is obviously there given the template on which most of the riffs are built. However the compositions also encompass vibes from the most far-fetched influences. For example, second track “Sceptic” starts building on a barrage of thick downtuned riffs that slowly give way to delicate clean segments that farther range from soulful Post-Rock-ish vibes to Oriental sounds.
However, more often than not the Meshuggah-esque is usually complemented by ominous, dark lead segments. The footwork and percussions start vying for attention by the time the almost 6-minute long track ends. “Waterfalls” does not stray far from its predecessors although in terms of compositional intuitiveness, there’s much more going on in this track. While some might find it monotonous to listen to an album consisting of tracks mostly capitalizing on odd-timed riff patterns and drumming skills, by its fourth track “Emulating Felicity” gives the critical listener a perspective into how much experimentation can be done based on just one tempo or count, or whatever you choose to call it. “Pобот” breaks any kind of tinge of monotony that might have crept in at this point with a false trail of fast guitarwork that ultimately gives way to “Catron” a spoken word sample layered with some of the most eerily toned guitarwork on the album.
“Automaton” starts off the 2nd half of the album, following in the footprints of the first few tracks. While, there is precious little difference between how the guitars sound here, the leads do actually depart from the well-treaded path and introduce a wall of crescendo. “Contingency” is obviously the most enjoyable track of the lot, one for its departure from the similarly moulded tracks so far and also because it throws in some of my favourite bass-work on the album. “Diatonic” is probably the testament to the fact that Holz has a tendency of exploiting one particular instrument the most on a track, this maybe merely a coincidence, but the drumwork outshines anything else that the 2nd half of the album had to offer. Complemented by some equally furious riffage , “Diatonic” is any Headbanger’s wet dream to say the least. Final track “ ” is another curious composition in my opinion: Just couldn’t get enough of that watery, spaced out tone that kept crawling out of the mix, unexpectedly. Essentially keeping things simple, the track ends with a prolonged breakdown, finally.
Experimental music may not be everyone’s forte but if taken with pinch of salt or to be honest an open mind it can give a lot of insight into what can be achieved with a mere permutation-combination of sounds and influences and everything in between. Eschewing the verbosity, “Emulating Felicity” is not everyone’s cup of tea, but is most definitely a must have for people who continuously look forward to broaden their playlist, if not their compositional horizon.