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Standout Track: “Restriction,” a four-minute version of Ryan and Hays Holladay’s 15-minute composition written for an outwardly silent public dance performance by Urban Artistry. Only attendees who’d loaded the track to their iPods—plus the dancers themselves—could hear the soundtrack. Passersby, meanwhile, were left to watch in bemusement and curiosity. On the single version, released on Bluebrain’s website last month, “Restriction” is shorter but still full of wonderfully skittish grooves and a muscular, pulsing beat.
Musical Motivation: “It maybe sounds trite,” Ryan Holladay says, “but I think it’s one another,” in reference to his brother Hays. Ryan, 28, and Hays, 26, spent much of the past decade as half of the Brooklyn-based The Epochs. Before that, they grew up in Arlington during the last years of the post-hardcore heyday. Though with Bluebrain’s synth-heavy melodies and knack for one-off conceptual gigs, Ryan says, “Musically what we’re doing doesn’t really resemble the punk scene.”
Brain Drain: Like many groups to emerge out of Columbia (Hays) and NYU (Ryan) this decade, The Epochs earned love for electronic harmonization and well-timed hooks, but it came with headaches. “It was all about trying to get the right A&R person and the right manager,” Ryan says. “At some point we realized it was sucking the life out of what we were doing.” With The Epochs on hiatus, Bluebrain has afforded the Holladays the creativity to come up with projects like a soundtrack to a National Museum of Natural History exhibition, performances at Pink Line Project-sponsored art parties, and a pair of participatory boombox performances. Oh, and the very occasional club gig.