We are proud to announce the re-emergence of James Holden. His new album The Inheritors will be released on 17 June 2013.
Check the first track ‘Gone Feral’ here: https://soundcloud.com/border-community/holden-gone-feral-41bc
The vinyl version of ‘Gone Feral’ will be released on 8 April.
Artist: James Holden
Title: The Inheritors album
Label: Border Community
Release Date: 17 June 2013
Formats: Vinyl/ Digital/ CD
Cat no: 40BCCD/40BCLP
A full seven years has elapsed since James Holden’s milestone The Idiots Are Winning debut album in 2006. Rightfully acclaimed on release (The Guardian felt “The most astonishing debut in electronic music since Boards of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Children”), Holden’s deep influence as a producer, DJ and mentor behind the Border Community imprint has grown tenfold in the intervening years. His renown and respect as an innovator is unparalleled, emerging as a teenage prodigy whilst studying at college, he was soon earning kudos and acquiring peer respect from the 2000s towering dance music figures across the spectrum. What he has produced as a follow up goes way beyond purely ‘dance’ music. Always a singular character with a tangential ear for sound, Holden has woven a rich aural tapestry that elevates him higher within the realms of production. Nobody is making electronic music as explorative as what is found within his new album The Inheritors due out 17 June 2013.
While his immersion in the dance community is ongoing, playing international events across the globe every week, his output as a remix producer has been nearly as select as his own scarce releases (a single new Holden track, ‘Triangle Folds’, tantalisingly appeared in his DJ Kicks set in 2010.) The remix roll call over the past six years is short, but telling; Radiohead. Caribou (with whom he also performed live with his modular synthesizers as part of the Caribou Vibration Ensemble for a series of ATP shows in 2011) Mogwai. Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid. Mercury Rev. Kate Wax (from his own Border Community stable).
As a precociously talented young producer, Holden was remixing Madonna, Depeche Mode and Britney Spears, but latterly his interests have turned inward and into the past, where a distinctly English sensibility has found a resonant voice, if one with a rose-tinted, sepia-toned hue. Or as Holden says himself “rose-tinted past as alternate future”. Seeking a path beyond the realms of “sharp, painfully literal nature of modern digital music”, Holden sought “a surfeit of fuzziness: the chaos machines making infinite fractal depths of natural detail in everything, the timing dictated by what I felt in the moment rather than the grids of a sequencer and the recording aiming to feel ‘found’ or ‘captured’ rather than ‘made’”, he explains. This approach has paid huge dividends.
The Inheritors (the album title is borrowed from the William Golding book) is an album that fully immerses you in a timeless space. Sounding like spewed molten metal from the industrial age to the head rush of London 2013, James Holden is clearly not seeking to emulate anyone bar himself and lift said bar in doing so.
Having collected, over the course of several years, a huge analogue modular system, Holden supplemented this with his own hand-coded computer programs, building a series of hybrid analogue-digital machines. “Complex, unpredictable beasts whose sole purpose was to be an expressive instrument for me to play a single song. There is something very Heath Robinson about the machines I build,” Holden adds. “Chaos systems with stable states and unstable states, modulating themselves as I fight to steer them. Everything is first takes. It was all a moment. It’s recorded like folk music – no overdubs, no virtuosity. A man learnt some instruments to a basic standard and played them. Where needed, he sang”.
What could be lazily brushed off as ‘techy’ is nevertheless bustling with life and virtuosity. You can just picture Holden, gleefully gaining pleasure from these one offs, as he plays everything (including all vocal contributions apart from Shimble on ‘Circle of Fifths’) on this album, except saxophone by Etienne Jaumet from Zombie Zombie on ‘The Caterpillar’s Intervention.’
Holden points to the music of Elgar and the KLF’s Chill Out as uniquely English points of reference, alongside ceilidh music, pentatonic folk scales, and ancient pagan rituals. “The environment I’ve spent a lot of time in over the last years – raves and clubs – is completely pagan: this totally natural human thing that happens on a deeper level than the conscious/rational. The communal ritual. To me that’s what paganism refers to: the mystic, intangible and unquantifiable things. This is still rave music,” he says of album opener Rannoch Dawn, “just for better raves than currently exist.”
‘A Circle Inside a Circle’ continues this theme with added pagan panache and windcheater breaks. Music that Holden imagined could make him “dance without being dance music in any recognisable way”. But one track that surely nobody could claim was not dance music of the highest order is ‘Renata’; all polyrhythms and coiled spring energy.
From ‘Sky Burial’s murky gothic chamber music to the woozy hydraulics and parp of ‘inter-city 125’ and ‘Gone Feral’s modular pulsing abstraction, ‘Blackpool Late Eighties’ bluesy memory-laden refrain to the spooked To Rococo Rot-esque ‘Circle of Fifths’,The Inheritors has abundant hidden depths.
With an adult’s view backwards to his teenage years which has helped shape this formidable record, Holden explains “Long walks forced an appreciation of the beauty of the English countryside. Being a hormonal teen into epic rock at the time I wanted to soundtrack that. British landscapes have a grandness but are never too big – when you have them in mind it excuses a sort of modest grandness in the music”. If English earth and landscape were given a modern voice, this could very well be it.
“The Idiots Are Winning just came, I’d written some songs that went together. It wasn’t conceived as an album. Albums made a big impression on me growing so I had this strong feeling that a proper album had to be somehow more than just songs together. The first time I heard Black Dog’s Spanners (or any one of dozens of other records) it was the first time I ever heard any music like that. So my album had to recreate that feeling – despite that being an irrational goal – I want people playing it to be hearing a new kind of music for the first time. I wanted it to be a whole new world, a mythology, complete. As opposed to a product in a cycle: an old-fashioned idealistic version of what an album is. Naive. But i’m fine with being naive.
In dance music you’re face to face with redundant, pointless music the whole time – records that don’t need to exist because every part of them already exists elsewhere. Maybe the same everywhere. I wanted to make the opposite and try to find my own successful combinations and strategies. That part-explains the long gestation I guess. But what would be the point of doing anything else?
The album is not meant to sound like now, but it’s not meant to sound like the past either. Is it closer to one than the other? The limit of my objectivity is about here”.
As his musical palette broadens, Holden is now certain that this is the album that he always wanted to make: bold, epic and psychedelic, striking a delicate balance between weighty tome and transformative trip, and with a production aesthetic that is all his own. For many musicians happening upon a successful formula, the temptation is to simply repeat ad infinitum, but the James Holden trajectory has demonstrated quite the opposite tendency: a streak of success merely provides the necessary impetus to forge ahead into a new uncharted future (past).
Praise for The Idiots Are Winning:
‘A debut album of exquisite techno… The Idiots Are Winning is the most invigoratingly coherent blast of pure electronic sound since Boards of Canada remembered to set their alarm clock’ 4/5 The Observer
‘The Idiots Are Winning is beautifully skewed and steeped in atmosphere – the most astonishing debut in electronic music since Boards of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Children’ 4/5 The Guardian
‘His buccaneering, semi-slap dash approach gives these tracks stacks of personality… Euphoric Grunge; like Mudhoney covering Boards of Canada’ ‘Debut of the Month’ 4/5 Uncut
‘The main event is Holden’s ability to spin coherent and masterful pieces out of the most unlikely ingredients’ 4.5/5 DJ Magazine
‘This debut album is the work of a very special talent… Despite its metallic sheen, this record most definitely beats with a human heart’ 4.5/5 The Sun
‘Holden matters because he’s got a sound that is singular and wired; stripped to the bone and starkly glistening. One nil to the non-idiots’ Fact
‘Holden is operating in a different league’ 4/5 Q
‘A classy debut’ 4/5 Mixmag
‘Like Aphex Twin, Holden favours wonky melodies and pranksterish irreverence’ 4/5 The Times
‘Fans of electronica will froth at the mouth to the unique sounds he chisels from computers… An exciting, uncompromising debut from an undoubted talent’ Clash