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Artistic chemistry can be fickle. For an artist inspired by another, the collaborative instinct typically kicks in immediately, but when it doesn’t come to an exciting conclusion just as rapidly, the disappointment that follows has the opportunity to wear out the impulse and negate any future collective output. Thankfully, this was not the case for Miami mixed media visual artists Beatriz Monteavaro and Gavin Perry, who found their mutual medium at last by forming heavy experimental band Holly Hunt.
Their debut record, Year One, was released at the end of last year and represents a polished output from a year’s worth of songwriting. It starts out slow and sludgy, with a minimalistic drone-y hand, but turns electric by the third track, “Manchurian Candidate,” and pounds excellently (and expertly) through tempo shifts from that point forward. This tasteful record is drawn from shared influences between the instrumental guitar-and-drums duo, in a way that stays true to what drummer Monteavaro sees as a vital characteristic of all good heavy records.
“A lot of the music that I listen to is kind of simple, in that it’s not overly complicated to take away from the songwriting,” Monteavaro says. “I’m of the opinion that you take away heaviness if you add too much to it, so for something to be really heavy, you always have to have it be as stripped down as possible.”
Even on furious-fast tracks like “Disco Is Dead,” this mission resounds clearly, as if each song follows a specific cryptic recipe. What’s less clear is what the album title suggests about its songs, which to some prehistory nerds could indicate a certain primitive quality to the music, but the band says it’s just as simple symbolically as their songwriting is melodically.
“It’s very literal, in that we have all the material that was written in the first year of us playing together on this project,” Perry says. “It’s foundational. I think we wanted to – without exactly spelling it out, but at the same time, kinda spelling it out – say: This is the impetus. This isn’t the end; it’s the beginning.”
To help them achieve their sparse sonic vision on Year One, the pair enlisted help from Torche’s Jonathan Nuñez to record the tracks, and it’s his unique ear that Perry credits for the measured quality of the album, on which they’re currently touring the U.S. for the third time. As any Florida band knows, planning these tours takes a special effort because it takes time just getting out of the state, but Holly Hunt is grateful for the supportive Florida cities that help them break out on each bout by showing up and sending them off properly. If you’ve caught Holly Hunt on their way in or out of Florida over this past year, though, you’ll be pleased to learn they’re bringing out new songs for this run, mostly to diversify the set for towns they’ve hit a lot. Like Orlando. These songs, which Perry assures are equally straight and to-the-point, will end up on an upcoming EP to be released next year. Expect it to expand upon these first songs stylistically.
But don’t expect it to be called Year Two. That would just be silly.
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