David Holmes "lets get killed" (Go! Beat, 1997)

David Holmes started as a DJ in Belfast, where he established two successful club nights in the Art College. His first album "this films crap. lets slash the seats" from 1995 was inspired by movies and rather ambient style. "lets get killed" with a more funky sound came out two years later. Holmes combined his moody film soundtrack and funky beat approaches in the works for the Steven Soderbergh movies "Out Of Sight" and the "Ocean's" Trilogy, as well as other motion pictures. "Bow down to the exit sign" from 2000 was an album with indie and hip hop influences, and on "David Holmes presents The Free Association" (2003) he worked with a band for the first time (although having had guest musicians before).

listen There are New York street sounds scattered around the whole album. Here are some of them. Unrated

my mate paul Crawling mid-tempo beat dominated by a very deep bass and a dragging cymbal. Something that sounds like a distorted e-piano stays on the same note, a stick sound with a deep delay and a few organs join later. Cool, laid back lounge track, easy and beyond any temporary trend. 7.5

lets get killed First: A little slower, with staccato percussions, a deep piano touch and some strange dialogue. But then the beat shows its true nature: drum & bass. The sound however remains warm and relatively tubby. A few strings add a creepy atmosphere. Basement ambience with peeled-off wallpaper and sticky air. 8.0

gritty shaker Starts with another New Yorker giving his opinion about the world and not being bothered about the fact that the song is actually playing already. Again a mean deep bass that shows the rhythm its way. The rest of the instruments stays palely in the background. Frugal percussions with a thin snare drum, a shaker and a wide open hihat. Add some spacy strings. What gives the whole thing the kick is the organic interaction of all its pieces, as well as the clever breaks that support the funky beat perfectly. Ah, yeah: and get a watch that works, Virgil! 8.5

head rush on lafayette A nameless street drummer and a rapper. The only thing Holmes probably did for this track was pushing the record button. Nice interlude. 6.0

rodney yates Another piece that found its way on the "Ocean's Eleven" soundtrack. This one seems to manage solely without bass or snare drum, leading into some kind of limbo. Xylophon sounds, a guitar and some melancholy strings accompany the nervously-dreamy retro trip. 7.0

radio 7 I don't care what nobody says, but a cover of the Monty Norman James Bond theme? Yes, it brings some variety to the mix and even a little orchestra. But it doesn't deliver anything new to the original, except a stylish beat maybe. With that Holmes was a little quicker than the Propellerheads. But I miss the coolness of the previous tracks. It appears somewhat strained. 6.5

the parcus & madder show Another interlude with radio vibes. Unrated

slashers revenge Hot, steamy trip hop piece with tubby reverberating guitar bits and harmonica play. Disappears in a light grey cloud and forgets what is going around it the second it happends. Tribal trance trip glowing in the summer night. 7.0

freaknik Back to coolness. Holmes' best beats don't kick on the surface with a hard bass drum and a loud snare hit in the guts. They reach you in the brains. Each single element doesn't seem that impressive on its own, but Mr. Holmes combines them in a way that they build to a complex, yet harmonic whole. Part of that track are also some restrained samples and 60s organs. 7.0

caddell returns Another set of these 'I sound like a real band' rhythms. But instead of invading your brain by constantly repeating its patterns this song provides with an apposition of different themes. The main theme is very sad and consists of some fat organ sounds with as good as no mid frequencies. I can't help but to suspect that this is actually a David Lynch film that accidentally was pressed on a CD instead a DVD. Conglomeration of whacked out pieces with no evident connection. But I like it in a strange way. 8.5

don't die just yet I don't know where they got the apostrophe from all of a sudden. Reminds me of Air, maybe because of the Serge Gainsbourg composition. Slow beat with a surprisingly dominant bass and snare drum. A pleasant, vocal-like melody emerges out of the dark, escorted by a nasty distorted synth line that is altered consistently. There is also heavy guitar play that could have been reduced a little for my liking. Still, this piece is an experience of its own. 7.5

for you Closing with yet another sample mix of New York street sounds. Unrated

[Artwork] I don't necessarily need inlays you have to unfold, but this one is quiet unique. Nice paper, interesting arrangement of New York snap shots and even some kind of a short story are waiting to be discovered. Overall a look that fits the retro style music. 9.0

Conclusion If you are looking for some cold, sterile synthesizer sounds and hard, straight rhythms, this is not it. David Holmes' music seems like 40 years old (probably because the sounds are kept very restrained and tubby), just with some new synthie and sample elements in it. It is funky, full of atmosphere, elegant and a little crazy. While this is instrumental music, the street and radio samples give it a little human (voice) touch. I think this album, along with what he wrote for the Soderbergh soundtracks, displays his best work so far. Music for the background of your life. Overall Rating: 7.50

July 2007