James Holden - At The Controls
James Holden´s DJ sets are almost a mirror image of not only the diverse remixes and beautiful music he makes, but also reflect the flowing groove and unclassable depths to the different elements that his productions encompass. His 2003 ´Balance 005´ compilation is still held in high regard, and a new compilation from James has been eagerly anticipated ever since.
James Holden - At The Controls
To a music world overly obsessed with scenes, the James Holden success story reads like a catalogue of contradictions. 2003´s collaboration with vocalist Julie Thompson, ´Nothing´, was picked up by legendary UK house label Loaded, then hailed by trance legend Tiesto as his tune of the year. Holden has remixed everything from quirky Cologne pop on Crosstown Rebels to mainstream dance pop on Positiva; New Order to Britney Spears; Black Strobe terror-electro to System 7 psy-trance and delicate Lo Recordings electronica; fast-rising young upstart Nathan Fake to Kirsty Hawkshaw´s timeless classic ´Fine Day´. Meanwhile the chunky techno earthquake of ´A Break In The Clouds´, the debut release on his own Border Community label, has become an underground European techno classic, still flying out of the warehouse over two years after release, and winning Holden a firm following amongst the ever forward-thinking German dance fraternity.
However, Holden´s DJ sets have been an almost mirror image of not only the diverse remixes and beautiful dance music that he makes but also reflect the flowing groove and unclassifiable depths to the different elements and genres that his productions encompass. Here on this double CD mix set we find James Holden firmly ´At The Controls´, creating and shaping a new aural environment for us to embrace and get lost in. From the classic minimalism of Plastikman to the lo-fi electronica of Fennesz we find Aphex Twin nestling next to Malcolm Middleton the cultural dub of Massive Attack v. Mad Professor melting into Death in Vegas, new German aesthetics from BPitch Control rising stars Apparat and Paul Kalkbrenner, new school electro from Geneva´s Water Lilly, trance inducing "lost" gems and of course the odd smattering of Border Community exclusives from Petter, Holden and label buddy Nathan Fake.
"The idea was just to make a compilation 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. 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, recommendations from my hairdresser!, and of course the depths of my iTunes folder - things I´ve been listening to for 10 years wanting to put on a mix CD." - James Holden
For Holden this mix also represents a technological evolution from 2003´s ´Balance 005´ mix which utilised a Cycloops sampler and CDJ-1000 wizardry. Although on one hand his studio set up hasn´t change too much bar the odd computer upgrade, James is very much aware of the technological advances being made in both music production and application and is further bringing these elements in to his DJ sets.
"The other thing about this CD is how I put it together. It´s not just geek-toy-love, because how you make music always affects the outcome. Using a DJ controller I´ve been developing with some engineering friends, along with a heap of software and custom hacks of things, I managed to make a setup where I could make a good representation of what my style (as a producer and as a club DJ) is about, and could do it live. So the CD has a few mistakes in it but that´s totally unimportant, because the feel of it is right and the noise and chaos suits me. More importantly the music is right - the way things go together and how one track leads you to the next. Which is the point of a mix CD, I think. All this music, to me, belongs together. It doesn´t matter that I´ve mixed from psy-trance into 70s krautrock because the feel of those songs makes it make sense. They make each other better by being together musically. In that way (as well as the gratuitous digital noise) the CD fits with me too - I dont want to fit into any scene either." - James Holden
Just turned 26 years old, James Holden now finds himself exactly where he wants to be. As the digital producer par excellence he is blazing a trail through as yet unchartered territory, showing those who follow in his wake how it can, and should, be done. As a DJ he gets to travel the world, surprising and delighting in equal measures, and enlarging his band of followers at every port of call. And at the helm of his own buzz label Border Community he is proving himself to be quite the A&R man, discovering like-minded souls to help turn his musical vision into reality and constantly striving to give something special back to the record-buying public. Underlying these three components of the James Holden recipe for success is an unerring belief in his own vision and a refusal to do things the way others tell him they always have been done. He is well into the process of carving out a niche all of his very own, and is not about to let anyone stop him now. As the Border Community Express ploughs on into the future, here once again we find James Holden steadfast ´At The Controls´.
James Holden - At The ControlsLabel: Resist Music| Release Date: Monday, March 27, 2006