Mark Hollis – The Colour of Spring (1998)
Retired, reclusive, blessed with sublime musical gifts, a genius to some, an inspiration to those who still wish to believe in music’s effortlessly transcendent qualities. Perhaps genius or the talent for crafting a piece as delicate as this opening tune from Hollis overlooked solo album is the ability to create a piece that is out of time and not of the period in which it was performed and recorded. A non-electric or electronic sound of course captured by recording equipment hooked up to the national grid, circa late Nineties when British guitar pop/rock was just winding down from its brief renaissance and hip hop and dance innovations began to dominate the industry that Mr Hollis had shied away from to concentrate on family life.
He transformed within the space of five or six years from the floppy haired front-man of Talk Talk – who in 1982 were seen as a prototypical New Romantic Pop band writing catchy synth based tunes such as It’s My Life – to a more reflective figure weaving more organic and subtle textures into the bands sound resulting in a startling transformation. Listen to any one of the bands Best Of compilations or their five studio albums back to back and aside from Hollis’ distinctive voice there is a marked evolution in style that is quite startling to hear. An evolution that led to their demise. They had travelled so far but in the fickle kingdom of pop were no longer welcome, the breadth of their music on their records now embroidered with elements of the spiritual, the cosmic and the natural world; a questing, searching sound that is anathema to most pop music which is so ephemeral, of the moment entwined with fashion and urban lifestyle.
Seven years later after 1991’s Laughing Stock; Talk Talks swansong, Mark Hollis released one self titled album. There were a few ecstatic choruses from several music writers but the world shrugged and he disappeared it seemed without fuss. The music was even more refined with silence as much an element of Hollis musical tapestry as any physical instrument.
Minimalism attaining maximum affect.