Album Review: bb u ok? by San Holo

Sander van Dijck, or better known by his stage name, San Holo, is a DJ and producer from the Netherlands. While his first name is Sander, the name San Holo is a play on words from the Star Wars character, Han Solo. He first created and released an EP in 2014 which made it into the Top 100 Electronic category on iTunes, but it wasn’t until his debut album, album1, where he found commercial fame. Now, he has released his sophomore album, bb u ok?

The first track from the album is i am thinking of you. It’s just a short minute and a half instrumental track to open up the album. It just opens up with a single acoustic guitar to set the mood of the album. It definitely opens up more with some electronic effects and a synth that starts to overpower the guitar later on in the track. Other than that, it feels like this album is going to be a bit different than what we experienced on album1.

IT HURTS! opens up with an eerie like sound effect. After it goes on for a few seconds, we finally get some vocals on this album. While it is mainly electronic drums and notes, it seems like we do have some strings that are present on the quieter parts of the track. The track seems to focus on the concept of love and once you lose that love, it’s a painful experience. They even talking about not even being able to express your feelings in words.

new one definitely seems a bit more exciting and lively. At least it seems that way since there are a lot more electronic instruments produced on this one. We also get some vocals from Bipolar Sunshine. He repeats the phrase, “Every second is a new one” which is a general explanation of what the entire track is about. It’s about making the most of every single moment you have, especially since you don’t know what could happen the next day, or even the next second.

We finally have the title track of the album, bb u ok? San Holo finds the perfect mix of electronic instruments during the chorus, and even knows when the perfect time is to back off, and then go back in with a larger build up. While it is a solid track, my only complaint is the vocal effects that are used, even if it a sample from something else. I would have gone with something else and not something that is too high pitched.

black and white starts to tone down the album and goes into more of an emotional direction. It opens up with just an acoustic guitar that seems to pop-up often during the track. I’m a bit disappointed from the first build up, but San Holo definitely comes back with the second build up and kills it. He talks about nothing is black and white and how he wants this person to meet him on the brighter side, which could also represent the differences they have.

i just wanna fucking cry is another toned down track, as I’m sure you can tell by the title of the track. I’m definitely getting more of an 8-bit feeling during the chorus, even though it seems like its a guitar sound with several effects added over it. With the light feeling of the track, it definitely goes along with the title and talks about crying without having any reason. They also talk about being small and fragile so anything can trigger that emotion.

heal (↑%) is another instrumental track added to the album. I almost feel like it’s a part two of the previous track with just how I’m feeling after that one. We have some quiet bells with a lone droning string instrument in the back. That goes on for a good thirty seconds, and then the actual electronic beats start to come in. Also, the bass is just perfect on this one. It’s not too loud, but loud enough to where you can feel the effect of it.

lonely in LA starts off similar to some of the other tracks we have heard so far. You have your typical acoustic guitar to start it off, and then eventually the vocals come in. Ofcourse, the drop comes in a little bit before the minute mark. The drop is pretty minimal to what we’ve heard so far, just some chopped vocals and light bass parts. San Holo talks about how he feels lonely, even though it seems like everyone is happy, especially with the sun being out a lot in Los Angeles.

the great clown Pagliacci mostly seems like an interlude track since it’s just over a minute and a half in length. The track opens up about a story about Pagliacci who is a clown and the doctor suggests that this person go to his show. However, the doctor didn’t know that this person was that clown. Anyways, after the story, San Holo seems to be portraying a similar message that has been presented on other tracks and about being alone.

Now we come to the longest track on the album, i get lonely around people, too. It clocks in just over five and a half minutes in length. We get an ambient-like drone sound with some quiet and chopped up vocals. Even when his vocals come in, it just feels like there’s so much openness surrounding it. The droning of sound eventually cuts out and we get the rough drop. I kind of wish they would have had the openness and droning sound go on for the entirety of the track, just with how it talks about being lonely, even if you’re with people.

The next track is something I would have never expected, a collaboration with American Football on thoughts and chemicals. I thought this would have had way more streams on Spotify, but I’m not sure if the EDM crowd is that familiar with American Football, or if fans of American Football know about San Holo. I honestly thought this would be a terrible track with the mesh of the two different types of genres, but San Holo makes it work.

We have another track on the album that’s over five minutes in length titled MY FAULT. I can’t really say I’m a huge fan of this track. Besides the acoustic guitar that carries us through the beginning, the bass that comes in during the chorus is just a little too loud and obnoxious. Vocally and lyrically however, you can really tell this is a personal track for him since he’s thinking if the reason that they didn’t work out was all his fault.

make this moment last opens up with a quick electronic introduction. Once the introduction is over, we get some more ambient droning sounds and San Holo comes in with his vocals. The drop is honestly a bit surprising since I wasn’t expecting the loud and very bright bell sounds. I’m not really a big fan of that drop so it kind of ruins the vibe for me. The track focuses on the concept of time and how it moves fast, however, he wants to make this one moment last for a long time.

find your way opens up with an eventful bass part, which I wish would last a bit longer, or at least be a little more known and louder. At least the drop for this track isn’t that overpowering. We also have Bipolar Sunshine back for another feature on the album. This track talks about having a positive attitude so even if it’s a cloudy day, you still need to find your way and hold your head up high. This was also a promotional single for the album earlier this year.

do you see me? is another track that has a brighter sort of sound to it, especially with the ‘distorted’ vocals that are thrown in on top. This is another track, that definitely takes advantage of the bass where it’s not too loud, but also makes itself known. While the track isn’t lyrically complex, or even vocally complex, it just talks about making yourself known and wondering if other people are actually noticing them.

FEELS RIGHT starts off quietly with some different layers of guitars. Then, when you least expect it, the electronic notes just hit you in the face in the first few seconds of the track. Unfortunately it cuts out when the vocals come in, but it will build back up to that loud and exciting moment. Judging by the lyrics, the first verse talks about waiting for a sign, however, San Holo says just to do it as long as it feels right to that person.

ewing street is another instrumental track and it feels a bit different than some of the other instrumental tracks we heard so far. It opens up with some distorted and chopped up sound bits. The strange part is that it keeps getting louder, then cutting back to add to the ‘choppy’ feeling. Eventually it opens up more towards the middle of the track, but will eventually fade out towards the end. At least the bass on this track is solid.

Weezer is at it again, and this time they have a surprising feature on San Holo’s track, wheels up. I’m definitely getting more of an industrial feeling during San Holo’s drop which is a nice mix in with Rivers voice, even if it is less ‘rough’ or ‘edgy’ in his earlier years. I almost feel like Rivers is being featured by almost any artist now since this is another strange feature to see on the album. Anyways, he could move into an EDM direction if he really wanted to.

you’ve changed, i’ve changed is another energetic track over five minutes in length. We’ve got a good forty five second jam towards the beginning of the track, but then it settles down for the vocals to come in. The build up goes back to the same intensity, and we also get a chorus of people yelling the vocals too. Then we get a chorus of people singing the next verse which is a nice addition to keep the intensity at the same level.

The final track we have on the album is one more day. Just like the first track, this last track uses a similar riff which is what San Holo did on his first project, album1. We get an almost spoken word part from Mr. Carmack which seems to be broken up a bit. We also get Mija on the track and just like the previous artist, her voice sounds a bit broken up with the sound effects added to the vocals. The first few drops are anticlimactic, but the drop towards the end for the outro.

I’m a little disappointed that this is less appealing than album1, but I’m glad that this is more personal for San Holo. There are still some decent tracks on this album and I encourage you to check it out if it’s your first dive into San Holo’s music.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Favorite Tracks: new one, bb u ok?, heal (↑%), thoughts and chemicals, you’ve changed, i’ve changed

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