Hollow Water: “Rainbow’s End” – an exercise of precision turned into art
“Rainbow’s End” is a 12 track concept album by Hollow Water, made up of Huw Roberts (Guitars) and Alan Cookson (Keyboards). For the first time Hollow Water have brought in a vocalist, Mark Lock, who has sung the songs written by keyboardist Alan Cookson. “Having a singer on board completely changes everything,” says Alan. “Mark loves multi-layered harmonies and this elevates the music to a different level. Mark has taken some time out from his own project called Maintain Order.” Other changes that that have been introduced on the new project, includes the use of various session musicians such as the legendary Jair-Rohm Parker-Wells on bass and Siros Vaziri of the metal band Billion Dollar Man on drums.
Listening to this “Rainbow’s End” reminds me of being a kid and so enchanted with my wind-up toy that I took it apart to see what makes it go. The band that Hollow Water has assembled here is really tight, and in the faster numbers you can appreciate how well the performers mesh together, as in the opening track, almost like an exercise, as the guitar lines begin to overlap and grow more complicated, then shift an accent or skip a beat to continually liven things up – wonderfully listenable.
“Mirror’s Frame” is one of my favorites though, two contrasting moods dominate, a hyperactive burbling bass, a very metallic-sounding guitar chiming in and downward cascading of drums, offset by the verse, keeping the same pulse, but with the instrumentation pared down and Mark Lock’s smooth, gliding vocals soaring above – a rest, and then it’s into the controlled chaos again, saxophone and all!
Honorary member Mark Lock Lock, as lead singer seems really right for this collective as well; his voice conveys a real intentness, whether it’s from the charge he gets from the other players, or the lyrical poetry he’s made to deliver – “Gathering Sunbeams for the Future” contains a lexicon of tight rhymes, – “We’re gathering sunbeams for the future, Energy for your computer, All of the gadgets you favour, Tablet, hoover and your shaver. We’re saving the planet for your children, Green power for your new kitchen, Appliances you may find useful, Necessary or even crucial.” A vocal exercise that is lyrical medicine easily digested for Lock.
All around, this is an ambitious project that is most accessible; great for guitar and keyboard freaks. There’s not one song on the album that disappoints, and they’re all terrifically executed. For all fans of progressive rock, or those who appreciate stellar musicianship and production, add this recording to your collection. Featuring skilled musicians, it is an exercise of precision turned into art. It is stunning in its complexity and layered sound.
Huw Roberts on guitar revels in this arena as he gives us some extremely creative six-string work. His smooth transitions and intense biting tones are the perfect complement to the tight arrangements. Add to that the talents of keyboardist Alan Cookson who sculpts some of the most sumptuous soundscapes and you have a recipe for the absolute destruction of the conception that rock music is simplistic or just ear candy. For those old enough, this kind of sounds like Robert Fripp meets Keith Emerson – eclectic prog rock to say the least!
At times vibrant, frantic and delicious – “Rainbow’s End”, Illusions & Delusions” and “Immortal Portal”, and then more introspective, controlled and unflappable – “Trick of the Light”, “Solar Beacon” and “The Quantum Mechanic and the Map Collector”, the songs are all trussed together by spoken word interludes, while the album is correlated with a booklet containing the song lyrics and comic book descriptions.
“The Light Dimension”, has Lock’s voice at its best, and is another one of the more listener-friendly songs on the recording. Huw Roberts seems to be slamming the song forward as it bursts into high gear; his amazing guitar work intertwining with Alan Cookson’s dizzying keyboard notes. The recording finishes up with the track, “We Changed. This World Didn’t”, where these fine musicians strut their stuff in the truest meaning of the word. If there is a theory for the evolution of rock, then this signals the second apex since the seventies.
This album proves that the chaos of sound is a mere illusion. The instruments, the music arrangements and lyrics are outstanding. “Rainbow’s End” is intelligent, complex, technical, diverse, and unique progressive rock, in an era which has seen the rock genre turn into 3-minute pop songs with a simple dropped E tuning. Any serious rock fan, especially of progressive music should be looking elsewhere. And that ‘elsewhere’, dear friends, is Hollow Water!
“Rainbow’s End” Album Credits:
Voice talent: Velvet Jones, PG Bailey, Tarnia Jones & Darren Deans
Bass guitar: Jair-Rohm Parker Wells & Damjan Kapor aka Stryfer
Drums: Siros Vaziri
Guitar: Matt Quistorf, Federico aka Mrfedmusic
Lap Steel Guitar: Steve Giddings
Saxophone: Nate Madsen, Ilia Skibinsky
Graphics: Christian Paris & Aidan Kelly
Mixed and mastered by Joel Evenden