R.I.P. Mark Hollis: 10 Essential Tracks From the Talk Talk Frontman


Mark Hollis crafted his personal model of progressive, blissful rock -- not by build up, however by scaling again. “Before you play two notes, discover ways to play one notice,” he said on Danish tv in 1998. “And don’t play one notice until you’ve received a motive to play it.”

Those drones proceed to resonate. During its run from 1981 to 1991, Hollis’ band, Talk Talk, ran the gamut from extroverted synth-pop to shockingly intimate post-rock. Their debut track, “Talk Talk,” was a danceable kiss-off to a serial cheater; their ultimate, “Runeii,” was barely greater than fingers gently scraping guitar strings.

Hollis made a profession out of pulling again the layers -- till he went largely silent from the music trade in 1998. On Tuesday (Feb. 26), it was confirmed by BBC News that Hollis handed away at 64 after a “brief sickness from which he by no means recovered.” Although Hollis had been absent from the stage and studio for 20 years, his music has solely transformed extra disciples.

Listen to his complete six-album discography from Talk Talk's 1982 debut The Party’s Over to his lone solo album, 1998’s Mark Hollis, and also you hear a pop craftsman regularly bringing his sound into the ether. Moody, experimental artists -- Radiohead, Yo La Tengo, Bon Iver, Godspeed You! Black Emperor -- have been listening; Talk Talk was the wellspring for many years of haunting, heartfelt indie rock.


In honor of the late Mark Hollis’ legacy, listed below are 10 important songs spanning his profession.

“Talk Talk” (from The Party’s Over, 1982)

If you've solely heard Talk Talk's debut, self-titled single, you would possibly assume they're your common '80s band -- extra Duran Duran than drone. It’s not a strictly inventive comparability; Talk Talk began as labelmates and tourmates with the “Hungry Like the Wolf” stars. Although it lacks the meat of their future improvements, “Talk Talk” is bouncy enjoyable -- and the putty from which Hollis would go on to sculpt beautiful classics.

“Today” (from The Party’s Over, 1982)

Talk Talk scored a minor hit abroad with “Today,” a rubbery synth-pop jam that shot to No. 14 within the U.Okay. Although the music is nondescript alongside era-specific singles by Howard Jones, XTC and Simple Minds, Hollis was already probing at primeval edges within the lyrics. “Numbers name to spell my identify/ Move about as values change,” he sings, like he’s observing a world divorced from context.

“It’s My Life” (from It’s My Life, 1984)

Every second of “It’s My Life” works: the wheezing synth hook, the drum machine motorik, Hollis’ crooning about self-ownership in his fragile, froggish tenor. In its London Zoo-shot video, the band refuses to lip-sync, wanting chilly and depressing amongst ostriches, giraffes and kangaroos at sundown. It’s a lovely no-confidence clip; the track, nevertheless, brims with it. This is the place Talk Talk grew to become really nice.

“Life’s What You Make It” (from The Colour of Spring, 1986)

The band loosened up on The Colour of Spring, emphasizing the interaction between bassist Paul Webb and drummer Lee Harris like by no means earlier than. Needing a last-minute single, Hollis played the organ riff to “Green Onions” over the drum loop from Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” The outcome was the band’s most kinetic groove -- and it powered a basic Hollis anthem about company and actualization.

“Living in Another World” (from The Colour of Spring, 1986)

This Colour of Spring minimize is stuffed with shifting moods, jarring cuts and out-there instrumental selections; it climbs by key modifications as if molting from its pores and skin. “Living in Another World” is stuffed with references to angels, hell and unimaginable mazes; the title itself implies an earthbound artist together with his head within the clouds. If your ideally suited model of Talk Talk lies someplace between their two stylistic extremes, right here’s your candy spot.

“The Rainbow” (from Spirit of Eden, 1988)

Spirit of Eden is an album of firsts: the primary they recorded with out synthesizers, the first that didn’t concede to label muckety-mucks, the primary with zero similarities to Duran Duran. It’s barely even a set of songs in any respect, however an oceanic, ambient suite. Opener “The Rainbow” exemplifies the vibe; with its languid piano, muted trumpet and tempestuous suggestions, it sounds much less performed than breathed.

“I Believe in You” (from Spirit of Eden, 1988)

If the open horizon of Spirit of Eden is a bit daunting for a first-time listener, “I Believe in You” is the album’s beating coronary heart -- and most devastatingly private second. In a considerably tone-deaf transfer, EMI Records selected the heartfelt, immersive track to be truncated right into a single: “That’s what occurs if you compromise,” Hollis later spat to The Guardian. “I Believe in You” have to be heard in its full type to be believed; it was written as a mournful plea for Hollis’ youthful brother, Ed, to depart heroin behind. The month Spirit of Eden was launched, he passed away.

“Ascension Day” (from Laughing Stock, 1991)

After leaving EMI for Polydor, the band -- now sans bassist Paul Webb -- dug even deeper into their broiling new sound. Where Spirit of Eden was feather-light, Laughing Stock is commonly nauseous and risky -- the Bitches Brew to Eden's In a Silent Way. “Ascension Day” is an open-ended vamp that teases chaos; screeching catgut, blurting chords and mewling horns threaten its basis.

“After the Flood” (from Laughing Stock, 1991)

Laughing Stock’s darkness is rarely extra obvious than on “After the Flood.” Dark, queasy and unsettling, it’s the thrumming organ that splashes abdomen acid on the remainder of the album. “Turn my face to the ground / Dead to respect / To respect to be born,” Hollis sings, clouded in grief and memoriam for the current lack of his brother. It’s essentially the most gothic second on a breathtakingly potent album; Talk Talk would by no means launch one other.

“The Colour of Spring” (from Mark Hollis, 1998)

In 1998, Hollis launched his solely solo album -- and accomplished his work’s lengthy arc into intimacy. “The Colour of Spring” makes even the empty areas of Spirit of Eden sound busy; it’s simply Hollis, recorded near the mic, singing over naked piano chords. If he spent his time in Talk Talk slowly deconstructing a fundamental sound, “Spring” is the sound of just about nothing left. The impact is courageous, riveting and painfully trustworthy -- very like the very missed Hollis himself.