Track By Track: Holon - The Time Is Always Now

By John A. Wilcox

Holon is an adventurous project spearheaded by guitarist Ronny Pedersen. The genre hopping album features guests from Wobbler, White Willow, and other acts. Pedersen graciously took us through the album track-by-track...

Track 1: The Belly Of Being
RP: Of all the songs on the albums this was the last one written together with the second part of the title song The Time Is Always Now. After I finished writing all the other songs, and I had gotten an overview of the direction the album had taken, I wrote this as an overture to set the mood of the album. It all started with the chord progression that is played throughout the entire song and evolved from that. Fun fact: The root notes of this chord progression are taken from a part of the verse melody of the title song The Time Is Always Now and it is also the same progression as can be heard on the second part of that song which I refer to as The Belly Of Being pt.II. Lyrically this song is hinting about the philosophical theme and journey to come later on the album.

Track 2: The Times They Are A-Taming
RP: This song is the first part of the journey and lyrically takes us to the starting point where the question about life and how to live it arises. The first part of the song is centered around a 12-string guitar sound with some clever mellotrons arranged by Rhys Marsh, who also sings the lead vocals on this song. The second part of the song, Pavlovian Conditioning, is based on a riff I had been playing around with for a while, and on which I constructed a 3-part harmony melody for the vocals. This part represents a rebellion against the taming done by society and ends up in a wild and frantic guitar solo representing the breaking free from this taming and finding our true wild selves.

Track 3: Dancer In The Sky
RP: Dancer In The Sky is a piece I originally wrote for one of my older band projects, but the band was dissolved before we managed to arrange and start playing it. It has stuck with me for years and it was not a tough choice to include it on this album. I gave a sketch of this song with just vocals and acoustic guitar to Rhys and he did the arrangements for it. We also decided to have the talented Kari Harneshaug make a guest appearance on vocals. Storywise this represents the time after breaking free from the taming and trying to be your own master and learning to trust yourself.

Track 4: Falling
RP: My ex-wife had a bunch of poems she had written and she offered me to use them as lyrics for some of my songs. I had this one song where the phrasing of the poem fit really nice with the melody. This poem eventually became the basis for the first part of the lyrics for Falling. This song eventually grew into a monster with massive instrumental parts to suit the mood of the song. I also made a new part with vocals for which I wrote the lyrics myself. For me the lyrics on this song is about daring to go your own way but failing, and still standing strong gradually building up to withstand failures until you see there are no such thing as failure, only your own expectations. I guess it could also be seen on as a symbol of my own failed marriage and the process of getting back on your feet again. On this song you can hear the wonderful, strong voice of Silje Leirvik, who also is on the Autumnsong roster. You can also hear some marvelous flutework by acclaimed flutist Ketil Vestrum Einarsen here.

Track 5: Time To Go
RP: This is another song I first intended to use in another project. It never fit that lineup and I am glad that I was reluctant to use it then and that I saved it for this album. This is one of the first songs I did arrange myself and I was really happy with the result. I really like the mood of this one, and Rhys Marsh, who handles the lead vocals, has a voice that really suits the song. I think I tried out a gazillion ideas for a chorus for this song until I ended up with the current chorus, which is really one of my favorites. This song also just begged for a hammond solo and we got no others than Lars Fredrik Froislie from Wobbler to contribute with one that really is one of the coolest hammond solos I have heard. The lyrics for this one is about letting go of your past and moving on into the future.

Track 6: Two Grains Of Sand
RP: Here is one that I started writing on one of my trips to India, and finished in a hotel room in Istanbul, where I was stranded in transit because of bad weather and snow. I guess one can easily take to using metaphors involving sand after having been a beach bum in India for a month's time… This song tells a story about the coincidences involved when finding love and how easily it can slip between your fingers. I did some of the arrangements on this myself and then Rhys made this awesome psychedelic, eastern inspired mellotron instrumental part. On this one we can actually hear all singers that have contributed on the album in one and the same song.

Track 7: The Time Is Always Now
RP: The title song of the album. This one is about learning to live in the moment, which I feel is the overall message of the album. I guess I have read so many books about self-improvement and Buddhism that something eventually stuck… Jokes aside, the entire album does tell a story about learning how to live and the quest for human(s) to understand what life is about. This one has a quite interesting time signature on the verse. I used to play it straight in 4/4, but a friend of me who used to couchsurf in my old apartment suggested I try out a different approach and it really made it a bit more interesting. On the chorus I used a vocoder which I felt really fit the mood of this song. The second part of this song, The Belly Of Being pt.II, is based on the same chords as the opening track and is a build-up part. It features an awesome pedal steel solo played by Rhys Marsh. We can also hear hints of one of the themes from The Belly Of Being in there on the bass. In the final parts of the build up we can hear some great wordless, almost ethnical, singing by Silje Leirvik on top of the final guitar solo.

Track 8: A Drop Of Me
RP: The finale of the album! I am quite happy with the raw guitar sound I got on this one. This is another of those post-prog-rock-esque build-up songs. Also, the bass, played by Rhys, that comes in on the intro on this one is killer. This is the climax and the point of enlightenment of the album. When the purpose is finally understood. I wanted to build this up with layers and layers of vocals and other instruments representing all becoming ‘one’. On this song one can really hear Geir Anfinn Halland Johansen thrive. I really like the groove on the chorus on this one, and I am quite proud of my arrangements here. After the climax the album ends as it starts with a sitar played by yours truly.


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