Hollow Water are a two-piece progressive rock group hailing from Aberystwyth in Wales. They consist of keyboardist Alan Cookson and guitarist Huw Roberts. Their music recalls the classic progressive rock bands of the 70’s such as Pink Floyd, Steely Dan and Yes, also bringing to mind the prog rock instrumentals of Todd Rundgren. You can also hear heavier influences like Metallica and Megadeth in some of the guitar playing, influences which Huw Roberts acknowledges.
Their essential sound consists of swirling analog synthesisers, rich overdriven organ and infectious bursts of frequently effects-laden electric guitar which combine to create a formidable wall of sound, especially for a two piece . As you expect with progressive rock, there are frequent shifts in time and key signature, as well as sonic texture. This keeps the music constantly gripping and it retains an impressive cohesion despite the many changes and modulations that can occur within a single track.
The superbly named Don’t Rush To Open The Sarcophagus is a good example of them at their most prog, featuring several different contrasting sections. It starts with atmospheric guitar amidst a sea of ambient synths, before a brooding lead synth builds the track into a frenetic section in a time signature that this reviewer cannot quite place! This eventually leads to a rather groovy passage with some blazing lead guitar work. Despite it’s structural complexity and disparate dynamics, it hangs together well.
Some tracks such as the excellent Witch’s Broom (remix) and Guanaco border on modern electronica with the bombastic, dance influenced beats they employ, while the track the group named themselves after is much more reflective and mellow, as is the Pink Floyd-esque Watermelon Man. Delving deeper into their back catalogue reveals some gems and other highlights for me were Crazy Near The End, the dreamy psychedelia of Magic Forest and the intense Truth or Power.
Overall, Hollow Water are a potent and imaginative musical force that will appeal to progressive rock fans who are searching for good modern prog rock. As their music is highly melodic, their appeal extends beyond just their genre and rock/psychedelia fans would find much to enjoy. They manage to create a large variety within the boundaries of the instrumental due to their accomplished musicianship, though they now plan to release a twelve track album featuring ten songs. I, for one, am looking forward to hearing it and highly recommend you check them out.
VERDICT: 8.6 out of 10