Mark Hollis – RIP

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Mark David Hollis è morto all’età di 64 anni. Il seminale musicista di Tottenham ha lasciato pagine indelebili che ci piace ricordare con qualche riga commossa. Dentro la storia dei Talk Talk e non solo.

Nel 2012 celebravamo così. A trent’anni dalla formazione e a venti dall’ultimo seminale album. Impossibile per il cuore non rimembrare nostalgicamente Mark Hollis e la sua splendida avventura a nome Talk Talk. Per i meno avvezzi alla storia musicale sarà bene rinfrescare la memoria su quella che viene colpevolmente ricordata come la band di ‘Such A Shame’. Una delle storiche banalizzazioni di cui è frequente vittima un decennio altresì pioniere e fondamentale per la musica in senso generale. Una lenta quanto inaspettata evoluzione/trasformazione verso una fisionomia jazzy e minimalista farà dei Talk Talk pietra miliare dell’allora nascente suono e termine post-rock. Da Tottenham a Londra dopo aver lasciato gli studi all’Università del Sussex. Mark Hollis (classe 1955) a 22 anni segue il fratello Ed e il carrozzone degli Eddie and the Hot Rods di cui è manager e produttore. Per un periodo fa il roadie ma la smania compositiva lo porta a formare i The Reaction che nel 1978 debuttano per la Island con il singolo ‘I Can’t Resist’/’I Am a Case’ mentre con ‘Talk Talk Talk Talk’ (da qui poi la scelta del nome futuro) sono presenti nella compilation ‘Streets’ della Beggars Banquet. Sciolta la band Hollis colpisce favorevolmente gli “uffici” della label che spingono e concludono per avere in casa il suo nuovo materiale. Nascono i Talk Talk curati da Keith Apsden che lascia proprio la Island per diventare il manager del gruppo inglese.

Il primo album ‘The Party’s Over’ viene prodotto da Colin Thurston ed ottiene non esaltanti risultati visto anche il frettoloso inserimento di Hollis e compagni nel calderone del New Romantic, soprattutto a causa del “doppio” nome e delle correlazioni di Thurston con Duran Duran et similaria. Passo dopo passo i Talk Talk acquisiscono maggior consapevolezza, l’arrivo di Tim Friese-Greene risulta determinante ed ‘It’s My Life’ è un clamoroso successo in mezza Europa. Il successivo ‘The Colour of Spring’ segna già il futuro ed è di fatto un album figlio della collaborazione tra Hollis e Greene che si ripeterà fruttuosamente anche più avanti. L’etica jazz pervade un disco che porta sulle spalle l’ombra di Ornette Coleman quanto quella dei Can e non è un caso che nel 1986 si esibiscono al Montreux Jazz Festival. Il 1988 è l’anno di ‘Spirit Of Eden’ che Alan McGee definisce: “Spirit of Eden has not dated; it’s remarkable how contemporary it sounds, anticipating post-rock, The Verve and Radiohead. It’s the sound of an artist being given the keys to the kingdom and returning with art”.

Siamo al punto di non ritorno. La premiata coppia Mark Hollis/Tim Friese-Greene realizza un meraviglioso capolavoro che si muove senza tempo tra elementi jazz, classici e ambient. La EMI lo “lascia” alla Parlophone e ‘Spirit Of Eden’ per molti addetti ai lavori è il prototipo del suono post-rock che di lì a breve i Bark Psychosis lanceranno su scala mondiale. L’epitaffio ‘Laughing Stock’ appare nel settembre del 1991 (via Verve) ed è una delle stelle più luminose di una decade che diventerà in brevissimo tempo frastagliata, ibridata, sporcata sonicamente in lungo e in largo. Molti critici notano una certa similitudine ed una referenza verso la religiosità contemplativa che pervade il Miles Davis di ‘In A Silent Way’, resta il fatto che ‘Laughing Stock’ è pura astrazione free-form di una bellezza senza pari.

Nel 1992 i Talk Talk non esistono più. Troppo incanto, troppa purezza per resistere al peso dei tempi crossoverizzati che stanno avanzando con passo spedito. Lasciando da parte le frammentazioni dei singoli elementi (Lee Harris e Paul Webb formeranno gli O. Rang, Webb diventerà poi Rustin Man per unirsi artisticamente a Beth Gibbons, Friese-Greene inciderà come Heligoland, mentre lo stesso Harris raggiungerà i Bark Psychosis) è importante invece sottolineare come Mark Hollis nel 1998 completerà il suo cammino artistico prima di ritirarsi definitivamente. L’album omonimo che viene pubblicato dalla Polydor non è solo un disco fatto uscire per adempiere al vecchio contratto che prevedeva due dischi (‘Laughing Stock’ è il primo di questi), ma rappresenta un ulteriore passo avanti verso l’isola minimalista varata da Hollis come un novello Morton Feldman. “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”. (Mark Hollis).

Per la gioia di grandi e piccini l’11 ottobre 2011 è arrivata l’attesissima ristampa in vinile del miliare ‘Laughing Stock’ (“The album’s experimental textures and eclectic live instrumentation made it a highly influential record in the world of post-rock and repeatedly has been seen as a major Radiohead influence over the years”). Poi finalmente l’annuncio del giusto-atteso omaggio. L’anno del 30ennale viene celebrato con un libro e un tributo. Il primo è opera di James Marsh che ha raccolto tutti gli artwork realizzati per la band in un prezioso volume in edizione limitata “Spirit Of Talk Talk” fuori poi nella primavera del 2013. All’interno i testi autografi del gruppo e circa 80 contributi di artisti dichiaratamente influenzati e/o amanti indefessi di questa splendida creatura, ecco allora tra i tanti Richard Wright (Pink Floyd), membri di Arcade Fire, Shearwater, Underworld, Orbital, Wild Beasts, Elbow, UNKLE, Weezer, Depeche Mode e Grandaddy.

La Fierce Panda ha quindi pubblicato il tributo dallo stesso titolo del libro che ha come protagonisti: “Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry covering “I Believe in You”, Do Make Say Think with Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Weezer’s Patrick Wilson covering “New Grass”, Alan Wilder with My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden covering “Dum Dum Girl”, the Clientele covering “Have You Heard the News”, as well as covers by Jason Lytle, White Lies, Joan As Police Woman, S. Carey, Lia Ices…”. I ricavi delle vendita sono stati devoluti a BirdLife Entertainment. Ad inizio 2013 fuori anche ‘Natural Order 1982-1991’ una raccolta utile per i neo-adepti. Per non dimenticare.

Emanuele Tamagnini

UPDATE > Il manager di lungo corso Keith Aspden ha confermato che Mark Hollis è morto dopo una breve malattia: “I’m still trying to accept this but sadly it’s true. Mark has died after a short illness from which he never recovered. Deeply felt sorrow for a remarkable person who remained true to himself throughout his life. I can’t tell you how much Mark influenced and changed my perceptions on art and music. I’m grateful for the time I spent with him and for the gentle beauty he shared with us.”

A dare per primo la notizia è stato il professor Anthony Costello > “RIP Mark Hollis. Cousin-in-law. Wonderful husband and father. Fascinating and principled man. Retired from the music business 20 years ago but an indefinable musical icon”.

Paul Webb > “I am very shocked and saddened to hear the news of the passing of Mark Hollis. Musically he was a genius and it was a honour and a privilege to have been in a band with him. I have not seen Mark for many years, but like many musicians of our generation I have been profoundly influenced by his trailblazing musical ideas. He knew how to create a depth of feeling with sound and space like no other. He was one of the greats, if not the greatest.”

Rachel GoswellMark Hollis what a beautiful gift you shared with us. Many many nights listening to your records over the decades. Timelessly beautiful. RIP x

Broken Social SceneMark Hollis captured so many of us with his haunting approach to song and the compelling ways he presented simplistic mountains of sound. He was an educator of emotion and a voice for the blood throat shadows of tomorrow. This is a loss amongst many.

Tim Pope > Goodbye to Mark Hollis of Talk Talk. Condolences to his lovely family. We had many, many laughs together. This is us being the nightmare interview from hell

The The > Very sorry to hear the news that #MarkHollis of #TalkTalk has died. He was behind some of the finest albums of the 1980s / early 1990s. R.I.P.

Ryley WalkerMark Hollis is up there with Neil Young/Sonny Sharrock/Hendrix for most physical/blasting minimalism/spiritual guitar solos. No matter how far out every phrase belongs. Fucking….bummer. True head

Field MusicVery sad to hear that Mark Hollis has died. You might have experienced the wonder of those final three Talk Talk albums but his 1998 solo album is just as beautiful and has been an endless source of musical and conceptual inspiration to us.

Dave Rowntree > Really sorry to hear of the death of Mark Hollis. His music was rich and deep, and a huge influence on my development as a musician.

Tim BurgessSad news about Mark Hollis. So much beautiful music

Peter HammillI never mer Mark Hollis but always had the feeling that he was a co-tunneller under the surface of what that pop music might mean. Here we are, there we went. RIP

Starsmark hollis was a genius. nobody made music that sounded like his. please spend time listening to his work. this one hurts. badly.

DovesGoodbye Mark Hollis,We owe you so much ,I cant overstate the influence on us three as musicians and us as a band.

Rusty Egan > If you can grab your headphones and give the wonderful Mark Hollis RIP your ears @TalkTalkBand were one fine band who made some of the 80’s finest moments and left it there

Erol Alkan > So sad to hear Mark Hollis has passed.. his music is amongst my most dearly loved… Rest in peace you wonderful soul.

Cold CaveRIP to the other worldly Mark Hollis.

Jason LytleSo saddened…he was a hero of mine in a lot of ways

Luke TurnerMark Hollis RIP. The massed recorders that start at 5.34 in Time It’s Time will always be one of the most joyous sounds ever recorded

Dead Can DanceR.I.P Mark Hollis

Yannis Philippakis (Foals) >  I always wanted to meet Mark Hollis & say thank you for his music. Hope he knew how much he meant to so many of us. R.I.P.

Chris Baio (Vampire Weekend) > Mark Hollis changed my life. Thank you for everything

Andy BellRIP Mark Hollis and thanks for some of the greatest music ever made

Max TundraAh, fuck. RIP Mark Hollis.

Inspiral CarpetsWe loved Talk Talk. @therealboon introduced their albums as the backdrop for us in the Surrey countryside in late ‘90 on the Beast Inside sessions. We stood proud of our album which was a deemed a brave step given the climate. Mark Hollis, the Master. GL

Simon ScottI played Talk Talk during my DJ set last night and I wake up to this very sad news. One of my favourite bands and his solo album is sublime. R.I.P

OMDWe are so saddened to hear about the passing of Mark Hollis, lead singer and creative genius from the band Talk Talk. Our thoughts are with his family and friends

The Dream SyndicateThank you and RIP to Mark Hollis. Was really hoping to hear new music from him again

The Psychedelic FursR.I.P. Mark Hollis,, a truly gifted individual

BlancmangeRIP – Mark Hollis

FleaThe beautiful Mark Hollis who made one of my favorite albums of all time with his band Talk Talk, The Spirit of Eden where he and his band mates managed to make an album that hypnotized me the way miles davis’ best stuff does. @theantski turned me on to it and it became a pillar of my life, a go-to album when I need to soothe my soul. Absolute beauty and infinite depth. Mark Hollis thank you. Broken through to the other side. Love forever.

Xiu XiuMark Hollis captured so many of us with his haunting approach to song and the compelling ways he presented simplistic mountains of sound. He was an educator of emotion and a voice for the blood throat shadows of tomorrow. This is a loss amongst many.

ShearwaterMark Hollis
that is a voice we cannot spare to have lost
thank you ghost genius
thank you

Andy KimTrying to find the words to express my sadness about the passing of #MarkHollis#TalkTalk Hearing Spirit Of Eden blew my 18 year old mind to such a degree I set out to try and learn how on earth they had created this transcendent masterpiece. That search turned into a career.

Rick Savage (Def Leppard) > It’s with some sadness that I heard today of the passing of Mark Hollis. A great singer and true master of the well crafted yet soulful pop song

Vernon Reid > Rest In Peace to the subtle & wonderful Mark Hollis. Talk Talk’s Spirit Of Eden is a moody masterpiece, soundtrack to many a long walk & ramble. Talk Talk set the table for Travis, Elbow, & much other Post-Rock Rock.

Lol TolhurstSo farewell Mark Hollis. I loved Spirit Of Eden. RIP

Steve Hauschildtrip mark hollis

Jay Glass DubsMark Hollis managed to speak to my 14th year old self and my 37th year old self in equal amounts. RIP and thank you for the beauty.

Nabihah Iqbal > RIP Mark Hollis

Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip) > Very shocked and sad to hear Mark Hollis has died. One of my very favourite music makers, his work has meant so much to me over the last 20 years or so

These New Puritans > Rest in peace

KindnessRest in peace Mark Hollis. Spirit of Eden changed my life and how I think about music. I hope people can hear it in the songs I write sometimes. Thank you to the thoughtful music friend who originally gave me the LP straight from his collection, confident nothing would be the same again. I seem to remember him saying he could buy another copy, but that nothing would compare to the joy of introducing someone to that record for the first time. If you’ve never listened, try listening to The Rainbow today, on headphones

Trevor JacksonHappiness is easy. R.I.P Mark Hollis

Elijah WoodSad to hear that Mark Hollis has passed

Bill BaileyListening to Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock .. and its atmospheric jazz stylings are chiming with my contemplative mood as I raise a glass to Mark Hollis , what a talent