If there’s one constant in producer and musician Will Holland’s varied repertoire, it might be best expressed as warmth. Whether dabbling in retro funk, Colombian coastal folk, tropical jazz, or dubby pop, Holland, usually under the moniker Quantic, infuses everything he creates with a balmy kind of love. In his new album, Dancing While Falling, he continues to bring the light in troubled times, circling back to his early roots in 1960s and 1970s funk and soul with a new sophistication and, perhaps, slightly softer contours from 20-plus years in high-energy circulation around the globe.
Permeating the entire album is a sense of community in terms of sound and production. Beds of luscious orchestral arrangements, gospel vocals, and tempered electro-disco beats combine into buoyant soundscapes, often undergirding sparkling contributions from featured singers like Andreya Triana, Rationale, and Connie Constance. Their voices make for powerful bridges between the vintage vibes and contemporary pop sensibilities integral to Quantic’s overall palette.
Triana, a longtime friend of Holland’s but a first-time collaborator of Quantic’s, is especially radiant. Hers is the first voice we hear, over melancholy strings and gentle percussion, on the opening track “Run”, with lines that set the tone for Dancing While Falling: “I feel something changing / And I don’t want to fight it,” she begins, signaling uneasy transformation on global and individual scales. As the song continues, a steadily increasing pulse of bass and drums opens up a musical path for Triana and a backing chorus. She reaches full strength over cool horns and swinging melodies, building enough emotional and sonic momentum to carry us through the rest of the record.
Triana returns later over lilting keys on snappy “Brooklyn Heat”, pushes through midtempo electronics on sultry “Morning Light”, and closes Dancing While Falling on a tender note with poignant “Where the Flowers Grow”, each piece offering us a different segment of both her and Quantic’s respective emotional ranges.
In intriguing contrast are the other two tracks with featured artists. “Unconditional” features the R&B falsetto of singer Rationale, who delivers a classic heart-on-sleeve love song with melismatic finesse. The darker synths of “Get in the Ride” offer an edgier canvas for Connie Constance, whose commanding delivery of hard-hitting philosophical truths (“People won’t remember what you’ve done / They’ll remember when you showed them love”) oozes punk pathos. In between, more laid-back instrumentals (“Emeralds” and “Tikurin”) and impassioned choral numbers (“Subway Lover” and “Stand Up”) keep the energy flowing.
For all its danceable grooves and beats, the general atmosphere of Dancing While Falling is thoughtful, much to Quantic’s credit. This is music made to uplift not by ignoring the widespread turmoil of our shared world but by coming together in the face of it. Each track is a work of audible care, and it makes for some of Holland’s most fully realized music to date. His intercontinental musical experience shows in every sonic shade of this album, offering both technical proficiency and a blessedly human-centered perspective.
At the end of “Where the Flowers Grow”, Andreya Triana muses, “In time, in space / We go where the flowers grow.” With warm hues of gospel, disco, house, and funk, Dancing While Falling is a finely crafted reminder that we don’t have to go there alone.