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Music Review: The Holy Roman Army – How The Light Gets In

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There are band names, and there are brilliant attention grabbing band names. The Holy Roman Army is one of the latter with a title that magically conjures up  images of Roman legions, lions in the Coliseum, and the fateful thumbs of Emperors.

In reality, The Holy Roman Army, the 2009 version, are a brother and sister musical duo from Carlow in Ireland. Chris and Laura Coffey successfully blend a whole array of instrumentation to create a rich tapestry of reflective shoegazing electronica, and synth based post-rock, with occasional splashes of hip-hop and dub to complete their canvass.

No, it’s not exactly the dramatic image that the name originally conjured up in my schoolboy imagination but it succeeded in attracting my attention and in I went. Their debut album, How The Light Gets In, delivers a potent and engaging trip through the couple’s musical musings. It arrives beautifully packaged and rich with skilled programming, and instrumentation.

Laura’s silky, sensual vocals soothe your mind and blend smoothly with those of brother Chris. Together they weave a trance-like spell of cinematic images. There is wealth of imagination on hand within the skilled programming which picks up an idea and explores its every recess.

The opening section of “Berlin”, “Elegy”, “He’s Not Responding”, and “Caught In The Wire” all successfully entice you further in. Laura’s vocals on “Elegy” are hypnotically effective. Chris’s own, on “He’s Not Responding” also draw you into a track with a whole world of programmed creativity going on within it.

“Caught In The Wire” is particularly effective, transporting us into the space that occupies the half distance into which we often stare. “Empty Skies” is lifted by some clever programming which opens the track into a maze of musical avenues. “Lastwood” and “Dublin In The Deadlight” both delve deeper into darker territory.

“Stagger Gently Home”, which is my own personal memory of Dublin, slowly lifts itself and leads nicely into “The Only Star”, a track to satisfy both the 'shoe' or the 'star' gazers out there. “Neon In Our Dreams” seductively closes the album and is a gently enticing, impossibly smooth, dream sequence.

Released on their own Collapsed Adult Records, (yes memories of Dublin again), “How The Light Gets In” is an effective debut, rich with creativity, and imagination. The images inspired by the name The Holy Roman Army are long since dispelled as I climb back out of the musical dreamscape into which the album has drawn me.

Have a look and a listen by visiting their MySpace page.

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About Jeff Perkins