Thoughts On Music pt. 4

This is the fourth blog in my "Thoughts on Music" series which feature quotes containing interesting thoughts on music that someone has said or written (or both). This time around: Mark Hollis.

According to Wikipedia: Mark Hollis (born 4 January 1955 in Tottenham, London, England) is a composer, musician, singer-songwriter. Having achieved considerable success in the 1980s leading the synth pop band Talk Talk, he retired from the music industry after one critically praised solo album.

It says "synth pop" band Talk Talk. Yeah, it's true that they started out as a synth pop band and were often compared to Duran Duran. But notable Talk Talk albums The Colour of Spring (1986), Spirit of Eden (1988) and Laughing Stock (1991) are not synth pop. They're more a mix of several styles. Some believe the latter two to be examples of early post rock. But there's also a lot of other stuff going on. Nevertheless both Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock are masterpieces. Strokes of genius from beginning to end. And The Colour of Spring is also a very good album if not quite in the same league as the other two.

Mark Hollis is an interesting character. A good singer, great musician and visionary band leader. His philosophy and thoughts on music in general are very interesting. You can check out this great interview for more. And the quote I chose for this blog post is from that interview:

"It's just about virtue, really, just about character, that's all it is. I can't think of any other way of being able to sing a lyric and actually sing it and feel it unless I believe in what I'm singing about. That goes back to the gospel thing. I'm not saying all lyrics have to be about religion but, in a way, there must be that kind of thing in it." -Mark Hollis, 1991

Two cases in point. Both songs are incredible so promise me that you either listen to both or neither of them :)
From The Spirit of Eden:

From Laughing Stock:

After releasing five albums Talk Talk split in 1991. Mark Hollis went on a musical hiatus but returned in 1998 to fulfill his and the bands two-album contract with Verve Records (the first one being Laughing Stock) with an eponymously titled solo album. Also a great entry in the Mark Hollis canon. After releasing this album he RETIRED FROM THE MUSIC BUSINESS! Today he has withdrawn from the public eye and lives somewhere in the English countryside with his wife and family. Fascinating! But before he retired he left us with some amazing albums. Maybe his whole philosophy on music can be summed up in the following:

"Before you play two notes learn how to play one note - and don't play one note unless you've got a reason to play it." (1998)

Thank you for the music, Mr Hollis.

(In fact I recommend that you get the above mentioned tracks/albums in a format with decent sound quality since the sound quality in the youtube clips isn't that great).


  1. To listen to the Hollis tracks for free, I recommend lala.com where you can find all the Talk Talk albums, including the two later and better albums, AND the Hollis solo album.

    I second everything you've said here. Hollis' albums are a testament that a musican can be brilliant without being a instrumental virtuoso. His later works prove the maxim LESS IS MORE.

    BTW, if you are interested in hearing another brilliant song writer with a bent toward minimalism, look for Brendan Perry's solo album (you can find it by searching lala.com).

    Formerly of Dead Can Dance, Perry also released a single solo album that was barren, sullen, introspective, and brilliant. Like Hollis, he then "disappeared" into the country, buying a church in Ireland and virtually vanishing from sight--although Perry started local drumming schools and other projects to teach music to the local children.

  2. Thanks for commenting! :) I'll keep Brendan Perry in mind.