Horne + Holt, the instrumental duo of guitarist Jonathan Horne and cellist Randall Holt, sound simultaneously expansive and stark, at least they do on their latest album, Wires. The pair are masters at soundscapes and weirdness in assorted groupings (they’ve even graced the pixels of Nextbop together before alongside Thor Harris in the group Knest) and it is through these groupings where they have never strayed from the true oddness of their music. They’ve never seemed to have been hindered from creating what they want in the moment, so to have just the two of them playing off one another, riding a mood out as simply as possible, has a pure sense of beauty to it worth cherishing.
What’s most powerful about Wires is its solemnity. Without drums, the two still have a great sense of rhythm, but with them also both playing string instruments, the vibe of riding out notes and a vibe is a bit more acute. “A Wake for Polaris” or “The Thin Invisibility of Wires” can be calm, cool, and collected while still holding a tenseness to it that feels like these songs are ripening on a vine. Hell, “In Need of Rescue, Strings Attached” has the requisite tension, swelling into a cacophony as dizzying as it is beautiful. Closer “Mvmt 7 – Amend” can be a hair-raising as a John Carpenter score. These two are doing a lot, but mostly, they’re playing with emotions.
Throughout Wires, Horne + Holt never fail to impress, creating moods and elevating them, pulling at emotions with the same intention as to how they pull their strings. Having just the two of them together pulling this off so well — guidedly and grippingly — is what makes them worth revisiting any time they have something to say.
Wires, the new album from Horne + Holt, the duo of guitarist Jonathan Horne and cellist Randall Holt, is out July 27th on Self Sabotage Records.
Jonathan F. Horne: guitar
Randall Holt: cello
Recorded at Thee Mighty Hotel2Tango (Montreal, Quebec).
Engineered by Efrim Menuck.
Mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Digital Audio (Austin TX).
Painting by Annie Alonzi
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.