Welcome introduction to Holmes’s wonderfully varied but consistently appealing output.
Mike Diver 2010-04-22
David Holmes’s debut album of 1995, This Films Crap, Lets Slash the Seats (presumably the man had a problem with possessive apostrophes), was by the producer/DJ’s own admission hugely indebted to movies and their soundtracks. A darkly designed, texturally rich experience, it was generally well received. Come the release of 1997’s Let’s Get Killed, though, Holmes was elevated to the upper echelons of the dance hierarchy, the record scoring highly beside same-year classics from The Chemical Brothers (hooray!) and Bentley Rhythm Ace (huh?).
Holmes’s material was never likely to be confused with the column-inches-consuming big-beat movement of the era, though – it was too in touch with the past to accompany a hedonistic present, its freshness founded upon street recordings acquired during excursions around New York rather than particularly contemporary production techniques. His collages were closer to the subtler, sample-stitched work of DJ Shadow than the bouncy bombast of a then-emerging Fatboy Slim, and Holmes was soon approached by film and television suits after critically cool beats to complement their latest projects. His career trajectory was altered: out of the clubs and over to Hollywood, from Belfast studios to working with director Steven Soderbergh.
Out of Sight, the first movie Holmes crafted a soundtrack specifically for, isn’t actually represented on this splendid best-of collection, but its opener is the previously unreleased title-track to another Holmes/Soderbergh collaboration, 2009’s confused but admirably experimental The Girlfriend Experience. Gritty Shaker made an appearance on Holmes’ soundtrack for the 2001 remake of Ocean’s 11 – again, a Soderbergh-helmed affair – but also featured on Let’s Get Killed, and studio albums proper provide most of the material for The Dogs Are Parading.
2008’s The Holy Pictures, which featured Holmes singing for the first time, releases four of its tracks for use here – one of that album’s bonus numbers, The Dogs They Are Parading, effectively gives this set its title. Of the vocal cuts, I Heard Wonders is the most immediately enjoyable: it comes on like a widescreen Badly Drawn Boy (who has also composed soundtracks) tinkering with some Secret Machines. At the opposite end of the catalogue is Gone, featuring Sarah Cracknell, but its loose trip hop design dates it a little. What haven’t dulled in the slightest, though, are the Let’s Get Killed tracks. Do make that album your next purchase should this introduction to Holmes’s wonderfully varied but consistently appealing output strike a chord.