David Holmes - Let’s Get Killed - Review
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critics' view

Belfast-based DJ David Holmes traveled to New York City in the late 1980s. DAT in hand, he travelled from the boogie down Bronx to the LES and everywhere in between, recording all the idiosyncratic personalities the five boroughs have to offer.

In the late 90s these recordings were infused with Holmes’ production, both sampled and self-made. The final product was a 59-minute cinematic statement of great magnitude: a barometer of the UK club scene backdropping an instrumental concept album; an aural journey through city streets.

There’s 8 million stories in the city, 13 of them on this album. “Let’s Get Killed” is a non-stop adventure from intro to outro; one movement where each track fades into the next. With its sound collage of ambient cityscape noises it feels as though you’re “walking” through it.

Outside of a bar a man’s tale of violent revenge kicks off the title track. A hardcore break sits at back of deep, window-shaking bass; anxious, high-pitched strings; and short synth riffs evoking the feeling of fast-moving objects passing all around. This song is a presence; a dark figure looming in the shadows. Drum machines have soul, it’s just not always a kind-hearted one.

A few twists and turns bring us to ‘Rodney Yates’, as we travel through one of New York’s Hispanic neighborhoods. I love the juxtaposition of jazzy Latin drums & bass and the groovy lounge foreground; with its multi-synth setup, modulated guitar riff, and light, fluffy vibraphone. The layering on this track is astounding and showcases Holmes’ ear for the minutiae of song composition.

‘Slashers Revenge’ might find you walking through a Jamaican neighborhood in BK with its dark, futuristic imagining of dub and style reminiscent of the late, great Augustus Pablo. It’s clear by now that Holmes is a crate digger through and through, with a passport all full up with stamps.

Even without vocals, “Let’s Get Killed” teems with personality. Holmes proves himself capable of running the gamut of emotions with deft and ease, which has kept him busy producing film soundtracks since this album came out. But ‘Killed’ stands as a high-water mark in an already impressive career.

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