July 25, 2024

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Beats Of Music

Why James Holden is still inspired by rave culture – Features

2 min read

As you open the zine, the trippy modular synthesis of the album’s opening ‘You Are In A Clearing’ is visualised through an invitation to a vibrant otherworld, reflecting the title’s instruction to break free from convention. Once immersed in this utopian world, you’re guided on a visual and sonic journey through it. As you flick to page two, our dehumanised universe is seen only as a fragment in the top left of the frame and the viewer is plunged into the bacchanalian hallucinations and hypnotic rhythms of the lead single, ‘Contains Multitudes’.

Cutting his teeth at squat parties in Oxford, Holden gained mainstream success when he released ‘Horizons’ in 2000, going on to remix Nathan Fake’s ‘The Sky is Pink’ and produce a slew of remixes for big ticket artists. After spending too much time amongst decadent DJs boasting about riding in flash cars and staying in luxury hotels, he became disillusioned with this loveless side of the scene. Finally returning to the defiant music of his youth, Holden is excited to be making feet move again. “I’m playing clubs and ravey festivals with the benefits of all these adventures I’ve had over the last 10 years. I feel really lucky.”

Despite his disparaging view of the industry, Holden still sees pockets of an anti-establishment ethos in rave culture, citing Wigflex’s parties in Nottingham as an example. “Dance music is folk music. The way we share it; how it brings people together; the way ideas evolve in it, with people doing versions of other’s songs, that’s a really folk music thing; and mainly, the way in which a community can develop that doesn’t have to be a capitalist-entertainment-complex,” he comments.

Read this next: Wigflex grew a world class party outside outside the UK’s major cities

‘Imagine This Is A High-Dimensional Space of All Possibilities’ is intimately tied to nature. The most recent right-to-roam single ‘Common Land’ uses 808 State-style bird calls and euphoric synth lines to critique the enclosure of space, a salient topic given the recent protests against the ruling against camping on the Dartmoor National Park. “It’s through music that I discovered alternative viewpoints about the world,” Holden continues, “it’s obvious isn’t it? That common land out there should be for everybody and if you can rave on it without hurting anyone, then that should be possible.”

“When I started there was such a broad DIY music industry and gradually over my lifetime, everything’s gone to big tech firms. Now it’s really hard for any musicians to just survive because everything’s gone to [Spotify CEO] Daniel Ek. And that’s part of the same system — it’s why we can’t walk freely across this country,” Holden says.


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