With a cult status that's grown incrementally over the past decade, Portland-based Holy Sons have all the potential to spill over into the mainstream — and not just because Fred Armisen has been giving shout-outs. Since 1992, Emil Amos has been making music under the Holy Sons moniker, producing more than 1,000 songs and releasing a dozen or so albums and compilations, all while keeping firmly under the radar — this despite playing drums in both forward-thinking experimental group Grails and revered doom duo Om. That will likely all change with the release of The Fact Facer.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. The prolific Emil Amos may be better known to some of you as the founder and multi-instrumentalist behind Grails, or as the drummer in Om, but before any of those bands came along, he worked on his own, mostly home-recorded project called Holy Sons. From the mid-90s he wrote hundreds of songs, the majority of them unreleased, the others forming the discography of the band we now know as Holy Sons.
Endlessly prolific, multi-instrumentalist Emil Amos helped start widely divergent bands such as Grails and Lilacs & Champagne while working as either a session player or auxiliary member to everyone from Om to Jandek. Amid his various many other projects, Amos has stayed constantly active with Holy Sons, a solo project he began in the early '90s as a lo-fi four-track excursion. The Fact Facer is Holy Sons' first album with indie figurehead Thrill Jockey, and though its palette is full of colorfully murky tones, Amos tends toward more hi-fi methods of home recording, turning in a wide range of sounds over the album's 11 tracks.
Holy Sons —The Fact Facer (Thrill Jockey)Holy Sons is Emil Amos of Om and Grails and Lilac and Champagne sitting in the dark by himself, picking out spare accompaniments in acoustic guitar, mumbling the shadowy thoughts that dog him at two in the morning. It’s a personal thing and even later, when he goes back in to to layer murmuring choirs of overdubbed vocals, or patch in pipe organ-esque synthesizer flourishes, or drum rhythms, you get the sense that he’s just still mostly worrying at the ideas in his head. Even at its most expansive, The Fact Facer feels solitary and inward looking, as if Amos were recreating a particularly vivid dream he’s had just before it fades in the morning.
Drummer for Om and founder of instrumental psychedelic band Grails, Holy Sons gives Emil Amos a voice - a voice that’s usually disembodied and floating through the thick fog of the forest, or rumbling underfoot. On The Fact Facer, Amos has emerged from the mist of Drifter’s Sympathy, pushed his way through the dirt of Survivalist Tales! and emerges as a confident craftsman; muscular and adaptable, but with a heavy weight on his shoulders. The Fact Facer finds Holy Sons in a particularly gloomy mood.
Emil Amos began musical life as an outlier to the outlier-friendly ‘90s, and hasn’t yet joined the herd. Operating under the Holy Sons moniker for his solo material, Amos writes, performs and self-records druggy dirges – sometimes with Middle Eastern flourishes, occasionally in a jazzy vein — over which his sleepy vocals deliver brutally honest self-analyses. Holy Sons’ narratives may plumb the darker angels of human frailty, obsolescence, paranoia, addiction and self-loathing, but there’s an undercurrent of humor – and just plain stubborn endurance — that lightens the mood just enough to keep you from wrapping the noose around your neck.