Border Community – November 3rd

Bigger proves to be better in the case of James Holden’s new band. For the third release on his Border Community imprint and first featuring a five-strong band, the elusive London artist leads a fantastic excursion into the unknown. Gathering his posse to his Sacred Walls studio last summer they recorded all the nine new tracks live. Each one is beautifully imagined and superbly executed, as if Holden was leading a kosmische caravan through uncharted territories of long-form funk and jazz. Featuring the inspired Tom Page (drummer of RocketNumberNine fame), Etienne Jaumet (alto saxophone), Marcus Hamblett (cornet), Liza Bec (recorder) and Lascelle Gordon (percussion) the group get jamming and let rip. Given that, it’s a shame we’ve had to wait more than a year to hear them. But Holden doesn’t do things by halves, having built his own modular synth and software for the album, written the musical charts, as well as recording, mixing and releasing it. It takes time. After all, these are musical ideas that Holden seems to have been percolating since his 2014 trip to Morocco to work with Gnawa music legend Maalem Mahmoud Guinia. Which explain the heady circular jams and upbeat moods that dominate its standout track, ‘Each Moment Like the First’. Yes, the electronic punch of Holden’s previous album The Inheritors sounds more intense and more clinically claustrophobic. But Holden as a mercurial free spirit deserves credit for – once again – bravely cutting loose and exploring new sonic vistas. The results are a joy to behold.

Buy: James Holden & The Animal Spirits – The Animal Spirits

Live: Islington Assembly Hall on December 6th