We’ve said it before here at Nine Bullets, “this Charlie Parr record is not what you’ve come to expect from him.” The truly dedicated listener probably no longer has expectations for Parr and therefore enters each record with wonder.
Hollandale lists five “songs” yet I hear this album as a whole, closer to a classical symphony or Coltrane’s A Love Supreme than anything that would be associated with the Piedmont style of blues he generally plays. Hollandale is completely improvised and instrumental. The genesis of each of the five songs is a specific tuning on the twelve-string resonator guitar or banjo. Parr said he had specific imagery in mind as he played each movement but what comes across as I listen is more of a trance-like sensation that removes all imagery.
This is a record only for the adventuresome listener or anyone reading Nine Bullets that has a jazz nerd past. I don’t want to dwell on Coltrane comparisons but I think I remember a story from my jazz nerd days. Miles Davis would get annoyed with Coltrane when they played together because Coltrane would play the same note, or variations on that note, over and over again, so much so that Davis would literally nudge him out of it while onstage. There is the same mesmerizing hypnotic quality in Parr’s playing here. I’m not a musician so I can’t tell you about chord progressions or variations on a chord, but that’s what I’m guessing is happening here. It’s a freeing sensation.
Normally this is the part of the review where we list a couple of songs for you to sample but I’m not going to do that with Hollandale. If you listened to one song or part of one song you’re not doing the record justice. It wouldn’t be fair. I imagine there are places to stream Hollandale or you could buy it. Adventure awaits.