For those not familiar with David Holmes, ready yourself for damascene conversion.
Rowan Collinson 2008
Without wanting to go all Simple Minds, David Holmes could easily be described as a Belfast child. Yet despite all he's done as the city's premier exponent of dance music, most people simply know him from his work with director Steven Soderbergh as composer of a blockbuster film soundtracks.
The Holy Pictures – Holmes’s first album since 2003's Free Association – could be the one to change this. Recorded in Belfast over a four year period, it's an intense, personal record which throws up many surprises. The first is its sound; gone is the ragged groove of the Free Association and in its place comes a dense mesh of guitar and synths somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Spiritualized. The second is the muted, breathy vocals on opener I Heard Wonders; even more surprising when you find out they're done by Holmes himself.
Singing? Shoegazing?? No…wait. Fans of Holmes' energetic DJ sets may sound repelled, but there's much to treasure on The Holy Pictures. The title track and Love Reign Over Me - both featuring Holmes' woozy vocals - top recent efforts by Jason Pierce and Bobby Gillespie, whilst his trademark instrumentals are as textured as ever, especially the beautiful Hey Maggie. The only mis-fire here is Theme/IMC which starts like Brian Eno but ends up sounding like a backwards cousin of Crockett's Theme.
In a year when My Bloody Valentine and JAMC have both returned, The Holy Pictures couldn't have arrived at a better moment. For those not familiar with David Holmes, ready yourself for damascene conversion.