Many people do their best work at night. Daytime is filled with interruptions and noise, while the darkness of the night offers time for thinking and creativity. Holland Phillips’ album Eleven After Midnight – which is being released today! -contains eleven incredibly well-made and fascinating pieces that show just how artistically stimulating nighttime can be. From Lights Off to At Night’s End, it is a voyage into a world of grand ideas, romantic ballads, and significant moments recorded for eternity, thanks to Holland Phillips’ synth brilliance. Make room in your playlist because this album will stay the night!
Holland Phillips began playing guitar and piano at age five, then following that up with a degree in Music Composition. Holland used his college time to analyze the classical masters, improve his piano and guitar skills, and focus on music therapy and how sounds affect the human body. His most recent albums are Leaning Toward Home (2018) and A Presence of Three Minds (2019). About his new album, Holland says: “Every song on this tenth album was created in the hours between midnight and dawn’s light… not through any specific design, however; that’s just the way things worked out. Those hours just happen to be the time that I am most awake and creative. I used to fight it, wanting to work as the rest of the world does, but that seems to be something I am not capable of doing.”
The title of the album opener says it all; Lights Off is a colorful and positive piece with a delightful, barely noticeable hint of melancholy. Phillips’ synth arrangement is, as usual, pristine. The flute melody is breathtakingly beautiful, and I like the way the piano and strings both build up – and conclude – the piece. It is a wonderful album opener. Hats off for Lights Off!
With the daylight gone, the scene is set for reflection and artistic endeavors. All That We Are features harp, oboe, and other orchestral arrangements. It is a low-intensity warm-up to (spoiler alert) this album’s finest piece: That Distant Horizon. It takes off from the very first piano note, telling a story about adventures, bravery, and incredible opportunities. The main theme, played by strings, is amazing! That Distant Horizon shows that Holland Phillips is a one-of-a-kind artist and composer.
How to go on after a New Age music jewel-like That Distant Horizon? By doing something completely different, something like Stranger Dreams. It has a gorgeous 1980s sound and a laid-back atmosphere, including a distant electric guitar. It sounds familiar and alien at the same time, much like an unusual, feverish dream.
It is easy to get lost in Wolf Moon Rising. It is a romantic, piano-driven ballad that twists and turns delightfully. The conclusion leaves me breathless every time. At this stage, Holland Phillips has something completely different in store for us: Landing on Mars! Where did that come from, you might ask. I think it is a statement on unbounded night-time creativity. I jumped in my seat the first time I heard it. It contains some very sharp and powerful synth drones, making it easy to envision a spaceship’s thrusters as it enters Mars’ gravity while the red planet looms below. The strings underline the severity of this stage before the atmosphere gets lighter – which is solid proof that the landing was successful and a new chapter in space exploration has started. Having listened to the Phillips’ music, the actual landing sometimes in the not too distant future seems like a formality. Bravo!
From The Music Fields
Safely back on Mother Earth, From The Music Fields takes us into the realm of myths and fairytales. It is a light piece that will please any fan of 1980s synth music. I must also underline the composition itself. It has a terrific flow.
When the title track comes on, it is apparent that we are at the album’s heart. It has a slow build-up; it takes its time as if an idea is forming – and when it reaches its finale, the conclusion is charming indeed! The organ, flute, and bell-like synth sound terrific. Calling Us Home picks up where Eleven After Midnight left off, further refining and expanding the triumphant atmosphere.
Pieces of You
Phillips has saved one of the best tracks for this late on the album, the romantic Pieces of You. The delightful melody instantly connects with the listener – and the best part; it is not overly sweet but describes life and relationships as they really are. There are ups and downs, but the overall atmosphere is about seeing the people around you as fragmented. None of us are statues cut out of one single piece of marble.
At Night’s End rounds off the album wonderfully. It brings with it a feeling of elation. It has been a night well-spent, filled with grand visions, creative work, and a true sense of accomplishment.
In conclusion: “Bedtime is daytime, and we come into bloom after midnight,” poet Lenore Kandel said. Listening to Holland Phillips’ upcoming album “Eleven After Midnight,” that idea of night-time creativity is blooming like an evening primrose. Holland Phillips has delivered one of his finest albums yet, brimming with well-crafted melodies, larger-than-life tableaus, and an overall theme that makes the listener reflect on making better use of the night. Losing a few hours of daylight suddenly seems like a small investment.
For more music samples and information, visit musicbyholland.com.