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David Holmes
The Dogs Are Parading Scott McKeating , May 24th, 2010 09:26

Even way back in his club DJing days, through the dalliance with electronica and his soundtracks for unmade films, Belfast-born David Holmes has always had a sense of the cinematic in his music. In becoming an in-demand big-buck movie soundtrack producer, and most famously Steven Soderbergh's musical ears on the Oceans film franchise, he's just taken a much more public route.

Outside of that world, Holmes' best musical work has been an amalgam of Northern Soul, funk and weird shit (psychedelia, musique concrète etc). What's noticeable on the career round-up of The Dogs Are Parading is the push to represent more of the music that's rooted in mild post-punk and funk as opposed to the harder and less easily genre-taggable material. This other odder side of Holmes feels obscured by both his Hollywood affiliations and the choices made here, his trademark well-tailored sharp lounge-funk sound far outweighing his leftfield leanings. It's unanimously noticeable that the best moments here are from 2000's heavily dark Bow Down To The Exit Sign, a bleakly nasty (in both senses of the word) tough funk/soul clash that sounds like the angry cold turkey of a hornless Miles.

Even though Holmes came to prominence as one of that 90s run of eclectically-minded DJs that wandered into techno/indie remixes and production, this compilation completely avoids that era. Maybe letting Holmes compile and sequence the collection himself was a bad idea, the inclusion of a pair of tracks from his awful downtempo project The Free Association shows a debatable judgement call. The release's rarities disc relies on remixes commissioned by Holmes; as opposed to work he's done himself, and includes what is possibly the worst Kevin Shields remix to have ever seen the light of day. This disc's most grievous error though is in ignoring some of his stand-out work with bands like Primal Scream and Therapy? and substituting it with ho-hum remixes and rarities. On the sunnier side though, it does manage collect Arab Strap's heartbreaking soliloquy take of 'Don't Die Just Yet' alongside Andy Weatherall's electrification of the krauty 'I Heard Wonders'.

With four solo long players to his name, the musical majority of which has been as much a series of collaborative efforts more than true solo work, Holmes has always been a generously hit and miss artist. His official soundtrack work might well have paid his bills, but it's also heavily influenced some of his worst material. Much of Holmes' music might sound like its been written for the cinema, and a good proportion of that feels constrained by the rhythms of the cinema edit rather than letting the muse really run on inspiration. David Holmes is at his best when he's creating something more personal, as on 2008's The Holy Pictures LP, and when he's being influenced more by his leftfield tastes than his day job's remits.

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