In 1972 Bill Holt quit his suit job and descended into his basement with an acoustic guitar, a synthesizer and other electronic equipment, and a 4-track, and created this completely unique and hauntingly beautiful album.
The songs are 2 long sound collages sort of like “Revolution #9” by the Beatles, from which he drew inspiration (they are entitled ‘Program 10’ and ‘Program 11′, obviously to be seen as continuations of the Beatles’ ‘Revolution #9’. But Holt’s songs sounds different from that, in that they are structured around meditative and simple innocent poetic verses and chords strummed on the acoustic. The effect of this mixed with soundbites from radio and television from the 1960’s, and household noises, and electronic noises, is to create a unified whole where all the sounds of life mix together, all the registers and filters that we use to process the barrage of information that we receive, get torn down, and it all mixes together with Holt’s childlike, slightly disturbing verses to create a semi-Freudian mix. The songs are made interesting by Holt’s lovingly built songs, in which he spliced together what must have been hundreds of pieces of tape by hand, and where glass breaking, popcorn popping, snippets of Beatles songs, radio broadcasts of Cassius Clay fights, and Kennedy speeches mix together.
I only hope that the story I have told makes it sound as interesting as this album is. I know that the sound collage method is a sort of independent music strain of its own, and I must admit that this is my only real dabbling in it. But other sound collage material is less easy to listen to than this. The songs are long (25 minutes or so each) but the sensibility with the acoustic guitar is not as restricted as other sound collage pieces, this one is a man reaching out with the breadth of his wonderful ideas to create a beautiful, honest, frightening trip. —Mike