Starting with a barely audible whisper and building slowly to a sonic roar of gorgeous static in “1MD,” Holy Fuck’s 2010 release focuses on the fine art of turning glacial ambience into fierce grooves. Latin bumps as hard as prior albums, but now stripped down to only one drummer, Matt Schulz from Enon, the quartet has a larger tendency to break free of locked motorik rhythms and experiment with massive dynamic shifts and intense swells. This is soundtrack-primed music that does for electronic soundscaping what bands like Explosions in the Sky and Pelican did for metal.
Not to speak ill of a man who has probably bought considerably more joy to considerably more people than I ever will, but there was a rather uncomfortable moment in a seminar at last year’s Supersonic festival, when a chap from Rough Trade (store, not label) attempted to sell the assembled crowd and panel RT’s grand plan to form a partnership with young person’s clothes store Top Shop. Pilloried about this by a chap from Southern, he tried to suggest that the whole thing was going to be one grand act of subversion, because the first LP that would be distributed into the Top Shop branches of Rough Trade would be the next Holy Fuck record. The mind boggles as to what point he may have been making, but I suppose it probably hinged on the fact that Holy Fuck are a) quite obscure, b) quite DIY, c) have a swear word in their name, and are d) very good, ergo ripe for rocking the worlds of those stupid pigdog Top Shop customers.
When Holy Fuck meandered more prominently onto the scene in 2007, critics weren’t licking their lips at the opportunity to slam the sophomore release, LP, if only because their eponymous debut was decidedly lacking. The band consisted of some Toronto band remnants, while the album was a scattershot mix of uptempo live drums, bass, and bizarre electronic noises from circuit-bent toys. It all sounded great, but they had no discernible musical direction: despite the rhythms being tight as fuck, both the debut and follow-up ambled along between ideas, with no heed paid to fluidity or a consistent theme.
For most of their history, Holy Fuck have operated as the augmented duo of Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh, surrounding themselves with a rotating cast of bass players and drummers (sometimes more than one at a time). Over the last few years, though, a consistent lineup has solidified, with bassist Matt McQuaid and drummer Matt Schulz holding down the rhythm section. And as one might expect, the consistency has affected the band's sound, making Latin, the band's third album, leaner and funkier than its predecessors.
Toronto instrumental post-rock weirdos Holy Fuck holed up in a barn to record their third album and, for the first time, built the recording around their touring lineup instead of the revolving door of contributors on previous outings. The rural setting definitely didn't mellow them out, and writing as a band has allowed them to better capture the intense wall of sound of their live shows. [rssbreak] The rhythms feel more central this time around and provide good bones on which to hang all the odd noises and swirling effects.
Toronto's four-letter favorites return with another album of instrumental electro-pop. This is the first to feature their consistent touring lineup, rather than the revolving unofficial cast of previous efforts, and the formula remains largely the same: a live take on electronic music, with uptempo, heavily rhythmic backdrops underlying swaths of melody and noise. Oh, and that title, Latin? Well, let's just say don't look to the north for south-of-the-border flavors (or Greco-Roman antiquity one can presume).
It makes for repetitive reading, but three albums and an EP into Holy Fuck’s career and their name still makes for the best lede. It’s fitting though, as it’s the first thing you’re faced with when talking about this band, and some might argue it’s the only reason anyone remembers their unmemorable take on electro-rock. It’s not just the obscenity that sets them apart—Fuck Buttons, Fucked Up, and Psychedelic Horseshit all have obscene names that fit with their sound.
The group’s third album brings a little more muscle to their punch. Laura Barton 2010 It can be hard to write about Holy Fuck without making their music sound like some kind of ungodly ear-puncturing clatterbang; all distortion, fuzz, toy guns, toy keyboards and a host of improvisational instruments. But in truth theirs is the most beautiful cacophony.