There’s a moment in “and she breaks the day! A clarity” – the second track of HOLY’s sophomore album All These Worlds Are Yours – when it’s clear the trajectory is set. Opening track, “Night on Earth” bursts open with the smell of rocket fuel and an ambition for the stars, but it’s not long before the promise of an incredible journey becomes a live-able, realizable dream. We were excited when the title track was released as a single. Now, let’s talk about the album.
This collection is big; a kind of concept album with a name lifted from a book that was gifted to the artist by his sister (All These Worlds Are Yours: The Scientific Search For Alien Life). HOLY (aka Hannes Ferm) employs the theme of interstellar exploration; seeking out the untouched aspects of a universe that pull on the mind in the middle of the night. There’s a sense of insomniac confusion, and it’s the possibility rather than the reality of things that propel the album forwards.
Recorded in waves since the beginning of 2016, this collection does well for being unhurried. Reflection on the bigger concepts; the pursuit of new logic, pure lifeforms, and all that stuff, is gradually turned inwards. Ferm balances the outward exploration with inward analysis; it’s the ‘alien’ emotions within himself that inspired this journey in the first place, and it feels like that’s we learn about ourselves too. Whatever we see outside of ourselves we can also find inside ourselves.
Apparently, after songs were ‘finished’ with co-producer Martin Ehrencrona, Ferm would sneak back into the studio. Late at night he would break down each track and reset the layers of sound, in doing this he has also renewed the purpose of the album. We can draw reference from the stars, and all of the heavenly bodies that populate the tunes; we can marvel at the nebulous emotions, as instrumental sweeps build, collapse on themselves and reemerge with new hooks and harmonic phrasing. Lyrically, we can point to the sense of longing that throws humanity’s hope into the universe – but at the heart of this thing Ferm learns about his position in process, and it’s the process of seeking out meaningful relationships that’s key. For all the boldness of, well, going boldly into space there’s something very human, very vulnerable, and utterly charming about the album. In the center of this enormous vessel, exploring bottomless space, is a brave, lonely heart.
For all the abstraction, and fruity discussions of process, there are melodic moments here that work on the most visceral level. They swell, they swim and they dismantle cynicism. Echoes of the artist’s influences can be heard in some of the more spacy progressions, but they’re good influences, and it’s the feel of a hero’s presence, and not revamped guitar tunings or synth calibrations that we’re talking about.
Tracks like “Heard Her”, “Dreaming Still?” ring with futurism, but it’s with closing track “In Lack of Light” that we see the very center of what Ferm is best at; good old-fashioned songwriting. It may not be the ghosts of glam rock icons exploring inner and outer space with HOLY; it may well be the romantic poets who felt wonder in everything.
For All These Worlds Are Yours we award HOLY two handfuls of spacedust. And one paperclip. He’ll know what to do with it.
PHOTO BY MARCUS WILEN