Review Summary: The start of something special
Sometimes the larger a setback is, the more spring-loaded it becomes as a launching pad for future ambitions. It’s simple physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction
. Perhaps that’s what happened to Ondrej Holy (dné) in 2010 when an ugly bout of poor health combined with a severe case of writer’s block to stymie what otherwise appeared to be a bright future. As Holy flirted with the idea of giving up on dné, inspiration struck in the form of These Semi Feelings, They Are Everywhere
and resurrected a career that almost ended before it began. Clocking in at a mere thirty minutes, These Semi Feelings
is a brief flash of genius and a gorgeously arranged electronic album.
These Semi Feelings
is rather bare in its posturing (most of the album consists of guitar, strings, and piano), yet its implications are much farther reaching. The beautiful sounds on this album ring out with unprecedented clarity, as if they were recorded between two mountains or in an abandoned church. Opening track ‘Meeting Points at 2AM’ captures this essence, flowing along gently to a serenade of classical piano and uplifting strings that give off a pure, almost pastoral vibe. Holy consistently utilizes spacing and restraint better than most, allowing an admittedly simple formula to carry much more weight during its creative peaks. Just look to ‘Driving a Car While Listening to Bill Blurr’s Podcast’ for Holy at his most vibrant, where all of the album’s sounds – augmented by a thumping bassline and sporadic handclaps – coexist harmoniously. The low dips and surreal calms that grace the album’s soundscape effectively accent each wrinkle, allowing These Semi Feelings
to glide along elegantly and uninterrupted, save for when it chooses to unearth a gem from Holy’s deeply-rooted inspiration.
Between pristine production and strong songwriting, dné consistently turns less into more. The high-pitched, distorted voices on ‘More Like it’ feel eclectic and artsy only because there are so few vocal cuts to begin with. ‘Friends Cleanse’ boasts breathtaking acoustic guitars that feel like a spiritual cleansing because the majority of this record’s sound palette resides in a sea of pianos and electronic effects. Despite all of this, These Semi Feelings, They Are Everywhere
is not really minimal or lo-fi; it is far too rich texturally and the glistening production leaves it with a sheen worthy of national radio. dné finds itself comfortably positioned between the freedom of an artist with less than two thousand social media followers and the benefit of sounding
like it is backed by a massive, multi-million dollar recording studio. It’s the perfect place for Ondrej Holy right now, although with a few more steps in this direction, it’s difficult not to imagine “dné” written somewhere in bright lights. These Semi Feelings, They Are Everywhere
takes the lightning from its cover art and captures it in a bottle, and damn does it ever feel like the start of something truly special.