James Holden: DJ-Kicks

James Holden: DJ-Kicks
In 2008 and 2009, only one DJ-Kicks compilation was released. Perhaps that is why the sudden resurgence in the compilations activity is so surprising. Last month, !K7 Records released Juan Maclean‘s DJ-Kicks comp and this month comes an edition by James Holden.
James Holden is a noted DJ and electronic producer. His debut EP, The Idiots are Winning was hailed by The Guardian as “the most astonishing debut in electronic music since Boards of Canada’s Music Has the Right to Children.” But the album represents his only original output. He has completed several mix albums, most notably James Holden at the Controls which was Mixmag’s Album of the Month for May 2006. So how does his DJ-Kicks output differ from his handful of other mix albums?
The answer is, it doesn’t differ greatly. Holden’s mixes have always been noted for combining elements of trance and psychedelia with slightly more electronica influences and his DJ-Kicks delivers pretty much the same. The biggest surprise is some of the names he chose to stick in. While he runs the Border Community label, the only artist from the label that appears on the compilation is Luke Abbott. Instead what Holden does rely on is a wide splice of many diver genres. While many people take DJ-Kicks as an opportunity to introduce new music to the masses, Holden inserts in well known artists like Caribou, Four Tet (although he is credited under his real name Kieran Hebden), Eric Copeland and Mogwai. Holden, also, draws from far in the past, digging out Piano Magic‘s 1997 single “Wintersport” to work as the album’s opener.
The major selling point of the compilation is the inclusion of Holden’s first solo single in four years. The track is titled “Triangle Folds”. For those hoping for a big splash from Holden, the track remains understated. As with the rest of his DJ-Kicks comp, his creation features a lush soundscrape burgeoning just below the surface while only selective bleeps make it to the surface. The track is like just a few bubbles coming to the surface of a serene oceanic scene. The track is like a microcosm of Holden’s entire mix.
The serene trance nature of the album makes it a nice relaxing listen, but I am not sure how engaging it is. There are occasional tracks that are attention grabbing but for the most part Holden’s mix is better suited as background music or fodder for sleep.
Rating: 5.6/10
MP3: Holden “Triangle Folds”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!

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