Paul Holda is a driven, direct and forward-thinking artist with a truly one-of-a-kind vision. His band combines the lush soundscapes of psychedelic music and the gritty edge of indie rock with beat poetry and spoken world, making for a truly one-of-a-kind feel.

Recently, Paul Holda Band released a new studio album, titled “Maniacs from the 4th Dimension”. This release is very balanced and extremely diverse, making for a very special combination of different genres and influences.

The gritty edge of rock blends in together seamlessly with the progressive edge of psychedelic rock and experimental music, as well as spoken word. The sound of this release echoes the work of influential bands such as Pink Floyd, Animal Collective and The Flaming Lips, only to name a few. In addition to the broad musical and creative coordinates of this project, Paul Holda Band also complemented the music with some outstanding spoken word segments, including the literary works of influential figures such as Kurt Vonnegut, Ken Kesey, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Aldous Huxley, and Terrence McKenna. The wordplay is witty and direct, combining great vocal melodies and powerful dynamics, with heartfelt songwriting. This is the kind of song that feels very deep and personal, yet it has a very relatable feel that makes it very easy to relate to.

One of the most interesting and striking features of this release is definitely its remarkable consistency. Not many artists can easily pull off a project that features such a wide variety of elements and influences. The most obvious risk is that the material can end up sounding quite disconnected and loose - but this is definitely not the case. Paul is a master at creating organic, cohesive and consistent vibes, which really flow well throughout the span of this release. The performances are loaded with passion and integrity, while the production aesthetics are also excellent. The mixing quality is indeed absolutely world-class, with some amazing definition in the top end and lots of punch in the low-end and midrange. The results sound warm and present, yet never harsh or fatiguing, which is quite an amazing achievement, particularly in this genre!

On this release, Paul really made a point to set the bar higher, not only for himself, but also for his listeners, genuinely delivering something that’s catchy and direct, yet forward-thinking and challenging in the best possible way.

Based out of Bernardsville, New Jersey, Paul Holda comes to the stage with an undying passion for the art of music. Working as a composer, singer, and songwriter, Paul’s love affair with music began early in his youth. The creative power of his symphonious genius is embodied in the wonderful new conception album titled Maniacs From The 4th Dimension.

Comprised of nineteen tracks, Maniacs From The 4th Dimension is an incredibly adventurous offering from the Paul Holda Band. The album includes original cover artwork by Mike Dubois and Renee French. Also featured on the album are some amazing spoken word performances by  Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut, Terrence McKenna, and Ken Kesey.

Maniacs From The 4tth Dimension features all original music with interpretations of  “Hard Rain is Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan and “Sisters and Brothers” by Jerry Garcia Band. Paul Holda not only wrote and recorded the album but played all the instruments, thereby making the Paul Holda Band a true one-man show.

The album is best classified as progressive rock with some flirtation with psychedelia. The great thing about this work is its awesome inventiveness and sleek continuity. The following track-by-track review covers much of the imagery and poetic measures the album.

 

Maniacs From The 4th Dimension Track-by-Track Review

1- Till We Meet Again – A charming way to open this melodic journey. This is definitely a rockers track that introduces the Paul Holda Band’s audience to the organic feel of the musical road ahead. The track has a very good rhythm.

2-Elderberry – I love the guitars on this track and the 70’s rock influences are carried out with a modern twist. Elderberry has a killer groove that is wonderfully executed by a moving bassline and electric guitar.

3- Buzzy – Switching up the pace for a second, Buzzy elaborates upon sharply-tuned guitars layered to perfection.

4- Never Left – This track’s heavy funk and bluesy overtones really make this smooth groove something enjoyable.

5- The Good Garden – Somewhat experimental in its presentation, this is one item that proves to be a hazy gem.

6- Wooden Velvet – Paul Holda reveals another side of his skill as a musician with this excellent forte of exquisite instrumentation that exemplifies its folk-rock appeal.

7- Advice From Lawrence – An excellent tune with a strong beat and flavorful rhythms. We get to hear the album’s first vocals with a cerebral poetic performance from Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

8- Reducing Valve – A uniquely structured track with an excellent play on guitar by Paul Holda with spoken word by Aldous Huxley.

9- Slightly Unstuck In Time – An easy-to-follow spoken word performance by Kurt Vonnegut. The music is a grassroots fusion that is equally witty.

10- Alien Intelligence – The title of this track is in tune with its theme. Alien Intelligence also seems to be a continuation of the prior track and its topic of extraterrestrials. In this case, the late mystic and writer Terence McKenna’s provides a healthy portion of spoken word.

11- Midnight on the Run – A dreamy rocker tune that features the expertise of American novelist Ken Kesey. Midnight on the Run is a hypnotically deep conversation about the “Warrior’s Code” and the strength needed to endure struggle.

12- The Mountain – The song’s structure is somewhat reminiscent of a few tunes from the legendary George Harrison’s Dark Horse. The Mountain has a very distinguished bassline which brings to life some of the background instruments.

13- Cosmic – An enthralling selection that blossoms into a lotus of psychedelic rock. Cosmic reminds me of some of the English garage bands of the late-60s.

14- Time Is Slipping – Terrific melody and Paul Holda’s vocal performance is superb. Definitely one of the album’s gems.

15- Sun Came Up – Truly a nature lover’s track. Although we’ve covered much in regards to the album’s music, the lyricism of Maniacs From The 4th Dimension is ahead of its time. Sun Came Up is set in the world where the rising of the sun and moon does play a part in our moods and experiences.

16- Show Me The Way – A delightful measure that opens with a driving beat and a surprisingly marvelous chorus.

17- Two Birds – Another album favorite led by a bluesy guitar that is absolutely stunning.

18- A Hard Rain Is a-Gonna Fall – An excellent way to wind down this masterpiece. You’ll be humming this tune’s melody before it ends.

19- My Sisters and Brothers (Promised Land) – A perfect concluding track and way to end a stupendous body of work. This is the cherry atop of the cake.

The Paul Holda Band has put together a body of work that is not only valued for its entertainment purposes but its educational worth in measures, song structure, and cultural art.  Maniacs From The 4th Dimension is like a time machine of rock music’s nostalgic period with a prophecy for these days and times. It doesn’t get better than this and that too is a blessing.

Paul Holda pours every aspect of his musical being into this 19-track album, moving from a sheer passion for musicianship in the early stages, through history and considerate ideas, and finally onward into melodic expression and something of a meeting between all of this. Tracks 1-6 are original instrumental compositions and draw you in effectively from the offset.

Till We Meet Again kicks things off brilliantly, paving the way for the upcoming journey in an inviting and musically impressive manner. There’s a sense of colour and optimism to the playing – every soundscape throughout this section has a warmth and fullness about it. Elderberry veers off down the pathway of rock and roll distortion but is no less satisfying and still somehow fits in with the mood and the creativity that make up the playlist.

Never Left is a personal highlight from these early instrumental moments – the space and the rhythm, a hint of Americana; the piece has character and a great groove about it. Furthermore, the chord progressions seem a little unpredictable – joy is followed by slight uncertainty, which fascinates and makes the whole thing feel quite new and subsequently refreshing.

The Good Garden afterwards sees the artist turn down some thoughtful, artistic pathway – experimenting with sound and fuzz, showcasing warm rhythm and electronic minimalism intermittently. Wooden Velvet then adds a welcomed dash of acoustic brightness and rounds up this ambient section of the project in a manner that further highlights Paul Holda’s inherent, unconfined creative freedom.

 

Tracks 7-11 feature spoken word excerpts from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut, Terrence McKenna, and Ken Kesey. The music feels similar in nature to what came before – Holda’s way with structure and instrumental expression has a certain sense of character. Now though, you have the added element of language to give the journey a little more of a clear or suggested intention. Your mind isn’t as free to roam, there’s a guideline, but in most cases it’s an inspiring and worthy one. Advice From Lawrence is a strong example and a great starting point.

Reducing Valve has a different feel but is equally likable, perhaps even more so for its joyful aura and the vintage crackle of the vocal. The whole concept for this section of the album is consistently interesting, the music and the words aren’t necessarily united expressively but they make perfect sense in this setting – you listen with purpose, all the while enjoying the endlessly impressive musicality running in the background. There’s plenty that provokes deeper thought and there’s always value in that – Holda accompanies the process well with each of these soundscapes. Alien Intelligence is another highlight – the echo effect adds a strange level of appeal to the words.

The latter half of the album showcases the same level of musical prowess but brings a dash of lyricism and melody into the mix. Always these songs are a pleasure to have play for you, beginning with the gentle yet optimistic and calming The Mountain, spanning right the way on to Promised Land. A hint of wah-wah kicks the guitar work off but the groove has that familiarity still – there are threads throughout this project, as well as ongoing creativity.

Some final highlights include Show Me The Way – a memorable choir of voices rise up in unison as the hook repeats and makes certain you’ll remember it – and Two Birds afterwards, which creates a perfectly reflective and satisfying rock ambiance around you.

Promised Land finishes things up well and is a personal favourite – the instrumentation surprises yet again but this is all part of the appeal. The melody and the voices work well to offer a sense of togetherness. Holda manages to make an extensive playlist hold tight to your attention and indeed your affection throughout. An easy joy and well worth diving into this winter.

Stream the album on Spotify. Find & follow Paul Holda on Facebook & Instagram or visit his Website for more information.

Anyone who states that “ brown notes, off-beats and noise are my friends” is always going to be someone who will capture my attention. After all in a world of conformity and polish it is those sort of things that make music stand out from the background mediocrity and line-toeing. Maniacs From The 4th Dimension is a tricky beast, it lulls you into a false sense of security. Considering what the aforementioned phrase might seem to allude to, what madness and left-field thinking it might suggest, Till We Meet Again heads off down some pretty conventional musical routes. But by the time you stop and take stock of things a minute or so in you realise that the simple acoustic guitar lines and straight four -four beats have actually cocooned themselves in some pretty “out there” sonic trappings. Psychedelic grooves are laid down, squalling guitars paint Paisley patterns in the air, rumbling baselines add rock muscle and the whole rocks with a retro infused intensity. It sort of sneaks up on you.  And as a calling card or way to announce your intentions, it is perfect.

But in essence it really only acts as an introduction to one third of the album, just the first section which contains other wonderfully acid soaked instrumentals. The middle offerings of the album takes these same vibes and weave sampled spoken word through them and the fact that it has chosen to give a platform to the wit and wisdom of the likes of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut and Ken Kesey speaks volumes about where Paul Holda and his musical acolytes are coming from. It also makes me wonder if he has been sneaking into my house at night and going through my bookshelves.

The final slice adds Paul’s vocals to a collection of songs in the same vein and even throws in a couple of suitable covers. But even though there are three definite chapters, each is underpinned by a cohesive and virtuosic musical machine. One that tips its hat, probably some sort of purple Donny Cap, to a past, West Coast sound but one that also reminds us that time, musical time anyway, is cyclical. Charge headlong into the future and you find yourself surrounded by what has gone before you anyway.

The album is a cracker. Cosmic laces gentle but incendiary blues through hypnotic back beats and repetitions, Advice From Lawrence runs on a jaunty Steely Dan soul-blues motor-groove whilst the City Lights owner and poetic minor deity breaks out some street philosophy and The Good Garden plays with drama and anticipation.

Dip into this fulsome collection at any point and you find something new, fresh and original, which is an odd thing to say for music so clearly informed by 60’s psychedelia, hippy rock and cosmic blues. But this is a version of that era which never quite existed, instead this is a reimagining of such times but done so clearly aimed at a contemporary audience. They say if you remember the 60’s you weren’t really there, well now you have the answer. This is either a love letter to what people don’t remember from the first time around or a re-telling for those too young or to straight to have missed out in the first place. Either way it is a brilliant fusion of nostalgia, modern musical sensibilities and future potential. How cool is that?

A founding member of thrash metal band, Transgressor in 1988-91, and a part of the Basement Generals from 2009-2013, Paul Holda is mainly a guitarist who also plays drums, bass and keyboards, as well as sings. A passionate fan of the Grateful Dead, the New Jersey based artist has been writing songs since he was a kid. Paul has a studio in his basement where he has written performed and recorded the 19 songs to be found on his genre-bending album, “Maniacs from the 4th Dimension”. A little bit experimental, and slightly progressive, with flavors of instrumental post-rock and psychedelic tones, this is a recording which is all over the place and far too hard to put into any sort of genre box. To further complicate matters, Tracks 1-6 are original instrumentals. Tracks 7-11 feature spoken word text by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut, Terrence McKenna, Ken Kesey, and Tracks 12-19 are originals featuring singing, and Includes a cover of “Hard Rain is Gonna Fall”by Bob Dylan and “Sisters and Brothers” by Jerry Garcia Band. And just to make sure the album wasn’t missing anything at all, Paul’s daughter, Carly Holda – aged 10 at the time of recording – handles the vocals on “Show Me The Way”.

So its clear right from the get go that you’re in for a roller-coaster ride of crossover genre flavors, instrumental, and vocal music, and a lot of other little surprises along the way. One of the major surprises for me was that Paul is actually a very competent singer, something he claims he is not, in the album footnotes.

He can actually hold a scale of notes together, better than 90% of the singers currently riding the charts right now. Once you’ve stripped them of the studio trickery and embellishments, that is.

This type of multi-styled album that Paul Holda presents here, is often the playground of many self-proclaimed geniuses and shysters, as it is for genuine keepers of the rock n’ roll faith, and there are those content to filter the same chord progressions through numerous effects pedals for what seems like a small lifetime in the attempt to look sincere.

But every once in a while, an unpretentious artist like Holda comes along, proving just how much creativity, imagination and downright honesty this music requires, and how breathtaking the results can be when’s it’s done right.

There are no overindulgent guitar pyrotechnics, or over-elaborated and tiresome orchestral arrangements. These are simply great songs. Some with broad and lush soundscapes for listeners to explore. Crammed with atmospherics, tension, and melodrama.

You will find the best of these examples among “Reducing Valve”, “Slightly Unstuck In Time” and “Midnight On The Sun”. Repeated spins reveal these songs to be meticulously assembled visions – twisting the volume knob up reveals the components of the massive walls of sound that are capable of melting your eardrums at high levels.

“The Mountain” changes things around and is built around funky free flowing percussion and Holda’s smart guitar lines and bass runs. The album’s main strength is its incredible consistency in two crucial areas. Firstly, in its high level of recording quality, and then the fact that there’s no fat anywhere on this album, no lulls, no long-stretches where you’re tempted to reach for the skip button.

Just slide into the brilliant Pink Floyd-ish “Cosmic”, and straight after that, into the sublime twin guitar sounds of “Time Is Slipping” to grasp the concept. Every track has something – whether it’s the acoustic guitars on “Till We Meet Again”, the mesmerizing strum and riff on “Never Left” or the haunting basslines that run through “Two Birds”. Every track contains some moment guaranteed to pull the listener back for a second helping.

Another one of “Maniacs from the 4th Dimension’s” secret weapons, is its raw emotive power. Despite the very wide-ranging stylistic spectrum, or in fact because of it, this music cuts straight through the intellectual centers and then goes straight to the sensory receptors, to where everybody who likes guitar dominated music, albeit without the guitar-hero histrionics, will find something to love in Paul Holda’s creations.

While practically all music fans enjoy getting lost in lyrics and having an anchor to hold close to their hearts, it takes even a deeper love to grow close to strictly instrumental compositions. Here you have the best of both worlds.

Story of the album

These 78 minutes, over 19 songs were pulled from the 4th Dimension, layered with guitars, drums, bass, and other instruments. Produced perfectly non-perfect. Brown notes, off beats and noise are my friends. Without them, the other 18 songs could not have been freed..

Time is Slipping

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