Portuguese bass producer Holly has unveiled a new 11-track mixtape, Dark Skies and Holy Grail, via HARD Records. Holly might have set records in 2017 when he released over 600 tracks, culminating in him winning the producer battle at the Goldie Awards. Fast forward to 2020, and though his frenetic output might have slowed, his impact on contemporary dance culture continues to grow.
Dark Skies and Holy Grail combines Holly’s multiple spheres of influence to produce a singular sonic blueprint that weaves through hip-hop, bass, drum n bass, trap, breaks and noise. The result is tender but unflinching, juxtaposing moments of beauty against those of raw power. The mixtape speaks to Holly’s feelings while producing & writing these songs. While many of his personal dreams were coming true, they were being realized under dark and uncertain skies. It’s a sentiment that is ever so universal in these times, and a body of work that resonates with the turbulent nature of our everyday lives.
Earlier this year, Holly’s work with Baauer saw him notch co-production credits on eight tracks that were featured on Baauer’s Planet’s Mad album. Though their history of collaboration began only a year ago, kick-started by their shared Portuguese upbringing, there is much more to come – starting with the first cut, Just Enough. A dark and grimy slice of the restlessness that is Holly’s production style, jumping from tempo to tempo, shuffling between styles and sounds, and never staying in one place for long.
Nowhere, perhaps, is this push and pull between dark and light exemplified more than on Holly’s collaboration with the late Mac P Dawg of Shoreline Mafia. The pair met in Los Angeles, writing Friday’s Night together in that first meeting. Two weeks later Mac P had passed away. A heartfelt conversation with his family led to the mutual decision to release the track, with all monies raised by the track going to Mac P’s family.
Elsewhere Holly guides us through the emerging Portuguese hip-hop scene on All Star. It’s a bouncy taste of Lisbon’s rap scene, and in conjunction with the album’s final track, Sunrise, leaves listeners with a taste of optimism and hope rather than darkness.
The mixtape also sees Holly unite with contemporary American rappers Uno The Activist, and OG Maco, South Korean rapper Ugly Duck, emerging Las Vegas singer Sebastian Reynoso and newcomer RahRah. Holly’s collabs weave a story of their own, the connecting narrative being Holly’s restless imagination and desire to push creative boundaries.
Dark Skies & Holy Grail offers a snapshot of what it feels like to be an emerging young producer in 2020; globe spanning collaborations that ignore genre borders, uniting spheres of influence that are at once universal and hyper local, and the push and pull of 2020’s unnerving highs and lows.