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James Holden - At The Controls

James Holden, At The Controls

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

TWENTY-six-year-old Oxford University graduate James Holden is something of an emerging force on the DJ circuit.

His Border Community label is currently hailed as one of the world’s hottest thanks to sales of its 12” releases, while his remixes regularly attract rave reviews.

His 2006 DJ schedule includes dates in just about every continent.

Hence, now seems the perfect time to deliver a mix CD to showcase his particular skills and musical inspirations.

At The Controls is, by the DJ’s own admission, “a compilation album that I’d think is good”.

“Mostly I hate DJ mixes, so that’s the main thing that influenced this – trying to justify my 2 CDs with a load of music that I really love,” he continues.

“Through Resist, we’ve been able to get permission to use some tracks I never dreamt I’d be able to get, so it’s turned out being a cross section of music that I’m really happy with. Lots of it comes from the little family of friends around Border Community, as well as recommendations from my hairdresser!”

Admittedly, there are times during the 32 tracks that the hype surrounding him seems a little unjustified, particularly as a lot of the selections reflect the same sort of genre.

But there is still plenty to admire in a mix that is equally capable of bringing some other dance acts to the fore.

The classic minimalism of Plastikman’s Cor Ten is therefore put forward with the likes of the lo-fi electronica of Fennesz’s Rivers of Sand.

And Aphex Twin’s cracking Xtal follows straight after Malcolm Middleton’s epic, cinematic Solemn Thirsty to present a segment that is a definite highlight.

Elsewhere, there’s the cultural dub of Massive Attack v. Mad Professor’s Trinity Dub (Three) and Death in Vegas’ haunting Anita Berber to lend proceedings a welcome hint of familiarity.

It means that some of the more obscure selections, from the likes of new German aesthetics BPitch Control or rising stars Apparat and Paul Kalkbrenner, don’t take over – particularly as some quickly fade from memory and threaten to bog the CD down.

The most impressive thing about At The Controls is its bravery – none of the tracks feels like an obvious choice and there’s no way that it could be said to be pandering to the mainstream.

For that reason alone, it’s worth checking out. Holden’s fanclub will certainly appreciate the joys that lie in wait.

Track listing:
Disc: 1

  1. Wooden – Apparat
  2. Cor Ten – Plastikman
  3. Trinity Dub (Three) – Massive Attack & The Mad Professor
  4. Angle Blues – Wax, Kate
  5. Anita Berber – Death In Vegas
  6. Some Polyphony – Petter
  7. Metro Pop – Vox Sala
  8. Hotter Now – Issakidis
  9. Lump – Holden (1)
  10. Trace Function – Midimiliz
  11. Watussi – Harmonia (2)
  12. 10101 – Holden, James
  13. Medean – Skugge & Stavostrand
  14. Charlie’s House – Fake, Nathan
  15. Angels On Your Body – Lucky Pierre
  16. Perlandine Friday – Christ.
  17. Rivers Of Sand – Fennesz

Disc: 2

  1. Opening Titles – Meta.83
  2. Gebrunn Gebrunn – Kalkbrenner, Paul
  3. 1939 – Motiivi:Tuntematon
  4. Solemn Thirsty – Middleton, Malcolm
  5. Xtal – Aphex Twin
  6. Sun Spots – Milky Globe & Holden
  7. Aufm Klo – Kalabrese
  8. Big City – Lazy Fat People
  9. Lottotron Reboot – Water Lily
  10. Cold War – Trans Am (2)
  11. Poppy Seed – Slag Boom Van Loon
  12. Live At Sirius Prime – Egoexpress
  13. Nazi Trance Fuck Off – Black Strobe
  14. Cor Ten – Plastikman
  15. Every Day – AFX