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Electronics expert James Holden has expanded his Animal Spirits for a bold set of synth led folk opuses that fuse bits of psychedelia, kraut-rock, world jazz to create a genre blending opus that is also accessible. Sax, cornet, recorder and percussion have been introduced to the sonic maelstrom with Holden acting as band leader on an album that is sure to be highly anticipated.
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I’m gonna go ahead and say it: this album is tied with Kara-Lis Coverdale’s Grafts as my record of the year. James Holden’s brand of frolicking electronic sound has always been a favourite of mine, but upon hearing that he’s got some buddies involved the excitement was hard to conceal. So really, this amazing flurry of acoustic and electronic textures is only a sixth Holden but is a totally glorious and unified whole.
The addition of further acoustic instrumentation from his buds helps bring out the folkier tendencies of his sound, evoking the spirits of the forest animals that his synths frequently imitate. Perfectly synchronised, his modular bleeps coalesce with these flutey / saxy / drummy tones in a colourful and playful way, a true melding of human and machine. Bright, shiny arpeggios soar over ride cymbals, throaty bass chugs underneath the chirp of a flute, and suddenly the whole mix gets catapulted through a dub delay. Seriously multidimensional (is the hippiest thing I’ve ever said).
Speaking of hippies, it would be hard to ignore the psychedelic over/undertones surrounding this: ‘spirits’, those vibrant ribbons draped from a tree on the cover, ‘moon gathering’... It’s Phil’s nightmare come true. But just listen to the emotional drive of ‘Each Moment Like the First’ or the 70s prog-turned-breakbeat of ‘Thunder Moon Gathering’, complete with its proud central melody, and you’ll be too busy being whisked away through the undergrowth to care about those connotations. I don’t know who to compare this to and I don’t care - enjoy !
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