As the prime mover behind Talk Talk, Mark Hollis threw off the shackles of a pop existence to create the bleakest, yet most lyrical orchestral rock this side of Scott Walker. Film demands your image: photographers lead you into the cold. Anyone whose ears were pruned and re-rooted by the last three Talk Talk albums should make the most of Hollis’s new, self-titled collection of nine songs.This year he breaks a seven year silence with a brand new solo album. It’s been a long time coming - seven years, in fact, since the great white spaces of the fifth (and, it transpires, final) Talk Talk album Laughing Stock - but unquestionably worth the wait. At the point where you’ve made it, that says what you want to say at that point in time, so it’s not like the next day you can begin another one”. “At the point when you finish an album,” Mark Hollis is saying, “the last thing in the world I could think of doing is start writing another one.Deceptively simple acoustic surfaces shimmer with all manner of spring-loaded detail, choked and wrenched vocal performances, miniature symphonies of wind instruments, and references to the recording process itself (at times, the creaking of Hollis’s guitar stool is louder than his singing; at others the oral noise from his mouth makes you wonder if he had the mic down his throat).
They don’t add much to the model established on Laughing Stock - drummer Livesey provides deadringer equivalents to Lee Harris’s damped snares and ringing ride-cymbal mosaics, and the music palpably breathes - but there is a continuity here that leads back to the jagged edge at which Laughing Stock tore Itself off after 40-odd minutes. ” he replies (his response to any mildly heavy question), “well, all that I can really say is that from album to album, you want to actually make a development, otherwise what’s the point of recording it?” Given that the majority shareholders in the future of music are those involved in offshore deals with dance music, Hollis’s new offering is a brave and unworldly return to active service.Press material sent out with the record fashionably namechecks Stockhausen and Miles Davis, but I hear neither: Morton Feldman seems a much closer presence.Hollis is not known as a volatile interviewee, but that observation hits the jackpot “Yeah, Morton Feldman is a total winner,” he says, sitting on a park bench in West London - the only situation in which he’d allow himself to be photographed.