Music Reviews
James Holden

James Holden


!K7 records

There’s a mix here, but it’s more intellectual than erotic, it’s more calculated than inspired, and it takes the mechanical approach to sound rather than making a floppy bunny of something we can love and hug. Machines clank forward, dissonances struggle out of the pulleys and gears, and a crew can be heard on the roof pounding on the air conditioning ducts. Periodic announcements rattle through the smoke and sparks, we are reminded that this disc will be released soon, and by making the announcement, the industrialization of music is complete – pay attention to the boss and the rules, and whatever you produce will be defended by the union.

Twenty bands and artists come together for this DJ-Kicks experiment, so that by the time we reach Luke Abbot’s “Soft Attack,” we feel like we’re in a Star Trek movie as it passes through the robo-editor. Holden dips his hand into individual cuts; he remixes Mogwai’s “The Sun Smells Too Loud” to include extra xylophone keys and a manic jazz drummer who’s lost the beat with the rest of the quartet. He also adds a track of his very own, the clip-clopping “Triangle Fold.” Whether he’s referencing origami, table napkins, or video game elementals, it’s all the same goodness. If you’re looking for thumping bass beats and a hot party groove, keep cruising. This is more intellectual jazz, cool and distant and more adapted to secret ring decoding. I’ll bet there’s a secret message lurking here if you play it backwards.


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