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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… David Holmes, the Holy Pictures November 3, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

David Holmes has produced a significant amount of work, coming from DJ’ing, production, remixing, dance and electronica but with a foot in composing music for films (with his first album scoured for soundtracks for television and film and since then he has completed 20 odd scores). And perhaps that’s one reason why his 2008 album, The Holy Pictures, provided a curious diversion from his usual style. It’s not sampled, he plays the instruments and the overall effect is one influenced heavily by krautrock with a side-helping of the harsher side of 1980s and 1990s indie – Primal Scream and the Jesus and Mary Chain, perhaps with a dash of Spiritualized, come to mind. Granted, these aren’t exactly wildly different from each other and when triangulated make a certain degree of sense. But that makes it sound like it’s all guitars, but whereas there are guitars, or rather guitar sounds, they’re often treated so heavily as to make this closer in intent to Ulrich Schnauss [indeed the evocative instrumental Theme/I.M.C has a bassline that is similar to Schnauss’s Stars, released a year earlier, a case of form following function I suspect]. And Holmes has always had a ‘big’ sound – little wonder he has been asked to do those soundtracks.

But listen to album opener I Hear Wonders and his breathy but affecting vocal and somehow it coheres into something that is greater that the sum of its influences. Perhaps because there is a subtle but ever-present electronica undertow which propels the track, and the others on the album along.

And it is this which made listening to this an oddly dualistic experience at first. Initially the tracks seemed to bleed into each other – they’re often speedy, but in a soft and sometimes uninsistent way. But then on returning to it it is clear that there was so much detail in terms of beats, melody and layering of sounds that it becomes much more immersive and engaging. This is busy music. Even the most obviously song on the album, and in some ways though there’s a fair bit of competition the catchiest – the title track Holy Pictures, while having a strongly Jesus and Mary Chain vocal is elevated by the sheer depth of music and layered vocals that support it.

In all this the composition and structure of the music bears the clear influence of his electronica/dance days, and this isn’t just a matter of detail but of dynamic – the way in which sounds fade [and phase] in and out on Story of the Ink or the intriguingly hollow bass sounds which punctuate that track. Love Reign Over Me is a song that could easily have been written by Primal Scream, or perhaps – given the keyboard that underpins it – Spiritualized. And rather than sounding like a pastiche it has a power and authenticity all its own, again perhaps because it the sound has an unmistakably electronica suffused edge. And if there is a band from the 1980s and 1990s I can’t help but think of Love and Rockets who had a similar sense of playfulness with the form [Kill her with Kindness could easily sit on some of their late 80s albums, as would the Beach Boy’s coloured Melanie].

This is a great album, one that repays returning to time and again and what’s particularly good about it is the way in which it doesn’t overshadow the rest of his work but complements it providing a real insight into some of the influences and approaches that have informed him (his film production company also produced Good Vibrations the film – kudos to him).

I Hear Wonders

Kill Her With Kindness


Story of the Ink

Love Reign Over Me


1. Dr.Nightdub - November 3, 2018

One of my favourite artists, he did a 5-hour DJ set in the Sugar Club last year and it was a joy.

Interesting that you name-check Primal Scream – there was a few years just after the turn of the century when he, they, Death In Vegas and (I think) the Chemical Brothers turned up on each other’s albums with incredible regularity, either producing, doing guest vocals or even contributing entire tracks. Quite the little musical gestalt they had going on.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - November 3, 2018

That’s true, it kind of all made sense in a way, they definitely had some commonalities of approach even in their various genres and New Order too, Gillespie was on Get Ready in 2000.


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