With timescales since The Idiots Are Winning edging towards the Boards Of Canada definition of lengthy, some might say that a long player from James Holden is long overdue. While Holden has been less invisible than the elusive Scottish pairing, thanks to duties heading up Border Community and the ever present DJ/remix circuit, his absence is equally felt through the all-to-brief glimmer that was his first album. Idiots amounting to five tracks, a pair of interludes and DJ tools felt like a tantalising starter to a main course that never arrived. If this rings true for you, then the fifteen tracks that make up The Inheritors will certainly put a tick in any mental wishlist you have dreamt up in the interim.
Before we get too excited, there is a tradeoff to be had with this abundance of material. Where Idiots was keenly focused, tracks in The Inheritors can sometimes just drift by. As you sequentially move through the fuzzy walls of sound and arpeggio jams, your finger starts quickly edging towards the stand out moments on future excursions through the playlist. However, these stand out moments are where Holden is at his best, a master of manipulating sound into a dizzying maelstrom.
||: A Circle Inside A Circle Inside aptly demonstrates this—fluteish arpeggios circle around with a deft switch in time signature keeping you on your toes towards the end, and lead single Renata pulsates brassily with a half strangled kick struggling to break through, which is only released after an eternity of tease. A deserved highlight for many, Gone Feral feels like Corduroy retold through the medium of tribal shamanic hallucination, the stereo panning and barely kept in check bassline making every hair on your body prick up. This then steps into The Inheritors itself, coming across like a morbid dub of Depeche Mode’s Behind The Wheel.
It is in these moments of simplicity that the magic is well and truly hit upon. The (relatively) straightforward time-phasing house beats and dominant twang of Blackpool Late Eighties is much more pleasurable than the tubthumping sax honk of The Caterpillar’s Intervention, as is Inter-City 125’s foreboding Close Encounters rumble that cuts through a middle section of fuzzy drone and textured loops.
The Inheritors is everything that Holden has been pointing towards with his scant offerings over the last few years, a natural progression from his DJ Kicks mix that saw him indulge in his inspirations rather than a standard piece of dancefloor thwack. Nothing sounds quite like it, and for this you can forgive the odd moment where you start to glaze, as the payoff is being treated to a sonic arrangement like you could never imagine in your wildest dreams.
1. Rannoch Dawn
2. A Circle Inside A Circle
4. The Caterpillar’s Intervention
5. Sky Burial
6. The Illuminations
7. Inter-City 125
9. Seven Stars
10. Gone Feral
11. The Inheritors
12. Circle Of Fifths
13. Some Respite
14. Blackpool Late Eighties
15. Self-Playing Schmaltz
Discover more about James Holden and Border Community on Inverted Audio.