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Holding Patterns - "Endless" | Album Review


by Joel Parmer (@cup_of_joel)

While Holding Patterns is technically a new band, the Derby, UK musicians are actually going on twenty years of playing together in various projects. Prior to Holding Patterns, the trio meticulously fabricated songs in the now defunct group Crash of Rhinos. In some ways they’ve risen from the ashes of Crash of Rhinos, but Holding Patterns differentiates themselves from previous endeavors with their impressive debut double LP Endless.

Guitarist Jim Cork, bassist Ian Draper, and drummer Oliver Craven are Holding Patterns. They write and perform in amalgamation as all three share vocal duties. Holding Patterns has essentially functioned in two phases. At first, they took a somewhat refurbished route. The band wanted to continue on with a complicated songwriting style reminiscent of their five-piece yesteryears. Through the use of loop pedals and other electronic gear, Holding Patterns initially wrote incredibly busy compositions. But quantity over quality wasn’t the path they wanted to take. On that note, Cork stated that what they were aiming for was “too complex and stressful to pull off with any sense of enjoyment or conviction”.

Almost a year in the band’s existence, Holding Patterns continued to evolve. They slightly stepped back on loop-based complexities, which in turned expanded a spark of creative cohesiveness. After a little bit of trial and error, it’s evident that Holding Patterns now knows exactly how they want to sound. And they’re still pushing the boundaries of playability for a three piece band in their vein.

Holding Patterns considers Endless to be a profoundly personal album. Themes throughout the twelve songs emerge in the form of memories of associations with people at various capacities. Together, the three members collaboratively all take part in lyric writing process.

From start to finish, the songwriting in Endless is scrupulously detailed. The naturally calculated guitar work in the intro track “Glow” makes Holding Patterns’ attention to detail instantly obvious. The song features standalone guitar parts submerged in held-out reverb; the excitement generates a giant push into the second song of the record.

“At Speed” was released as the first single back in the fall of last year. After listening to it for months, the tune remains satisfying to my ears. It was an appropriate choice for a first single, as the song summarizes much—but certainly not all—of what Holding Patterns is all about.

Guitar parts bounce around moments of near dissonance, carefully intricate palm-muting, melodically enamored chord choices, and a chime of pleasant clean tone at the end of “At Speed”. The vocals provoke some gritty pushes, but also sparkle with captivating harmony and textural range. Holding Patterns’ choice of bass tone packs a unique punch and generates some tastefully cranked overtones without the need of anything artificial. And the drums on this song and across the album are impeccable. Craven’s bustling playing style crushes massive fills and tireless beats without ever getting in the way or sounding too busy. Additionally, this song introduces Holding Patterns’ ability to truly play together as a closely knit unit. They effortlessly make light of the fact that just about every section and transition present in their songs require tremendous amounts of musicianship and communication.

While “At Speed” effectively sets the stage for Endless, the rest of the release lives up to that tenaciously unified foundation. “First Responder” is a much more soaring track, bringing in post-rock influenced guitar parts, slapping backbeats, and a surprisingly fuzzy bass tone. Some really fantastic ‘call and response’ parts in “No Accident” add to the skillful melting pot of Holding Patterns ideas, and the vampy track “Pyre” represents a quick instrumental song quite literally built on bass guitar.

“Dust” respectfully tributes Drapers family’s past. Drapers hometown was near an ex-mining community where his grandparents once worked. As the mining industry has all but vanished like soot of the earth blowing in the wind, this concept is invoked in the song.

Following the title track “Endless” (another quick instrumental interlude) “House Fire” is perhaps the album’s moodiest piece. Clocking in at nearly eight minutes the song chugs along in an almost ballad-like fashion and contains a ridiculously dynamic build up and fortissimo phrase.

Lastly, “Long Dead” and “Momentarily” encapsulate Holding Patterns much like “At Speed” does from the get go. The last ten minutes of Endless sharply showcases an even more diverse range of heavy post-punk and twinkling atmospheric playing styles with these final two bangers.

Digressing from a five-piece with two bassists, Holding Patterns have truly honed in on a three-piece-minded writing style. Endless is an elaborate record paralleled with a vastly deliberate songwriting process.