Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Return Of David Holmes

The release of a new David Holmes album, whether it be a soundtrack, solo project or a mix collection, always feels like a major event to me. Things have been a bit on the silent end in the past couple of years but the cool is definitely born again on his new soundtrack lp for Steven Soderbergh's OCEAN'S THIRTEEN.
Recorded at the famed Ocean Way studio, the site where Sinatra's reprise material was recorded in the sixties, OCEAN'S THIRTEEN might be the best of the three soundtracks Holmes has delivered for the modern Danny Ocean films.
Abandoning the dialogue sampling heavy OCEAN'S ELEVEN and the mostly European feel of OCEAN'S TWELVE, the new score is one of the most organic feeling records the Irish Holmes has ever released. He has said that he wanted this album to have more of a live and a less programed feel than the others and he delivers on that big time.
Opening with the propulsive NOT THEIR FIGHT, Holmes' band, including Woody Jackson on guitar and bass as well as a second bass provided by Jason Flakner, starts to cook from the opening notes. The album is probably the loosest that Holmes has recorded since his underrated ANALYZE THAT soundtrack several years ago.
Equal parts Lalo Schifrin, John Barry and Ennio Morricone, Holmes interjects a major sense of seductive nostalgia in these grooves. Zach Danziger's percussive work gives the whole affair an incredibly swinging vibe that never lets up and the horn arrangements make it among the jazziest albums Holmes has ever been involved in.
Possibly my favorite moment on the album is SHIT SHIT SHIT which finds Holmes again paying tribute to Serge Gainsbourg's MELODY NELSON album. Fans of that monumental lp will immediately recognize a particular bass line and it will take you several days to wipe the smile off your face after hearing it.

The whole album already sounds like a classic which is something that Holmes has a particular talent in doing. In using variations on older themes, Holmes' music is like a tune from your past that repeats in your head. You can't remember where it's from but damn if it doesn't remind you of something, and you don't want it to stop.
While OCEAN'S ELEVEN re-discovered Elvis Presley's stunning A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION and OCEAN'S TWELVE finally gave Dave Grusin's CANDY'S closing theme it's props, OCEAN'S THIRTEEN closes with two undiscovered gems. First up is Frank Sinatra's (the original Danny Ocean) THIS TOWN. This late sixties jewel written by Lee Hazelwood has long been a favorite of mine but, like A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION used to be, it isn't that well known outside of major Sinatra circles. With its slightly hungover sound and explosive Sinatra vocal, THIS TOWN is a major track and sums up Soderbergh's fun series nicely. The song, just like the films, plays like a requiem for the very lost Las Vegas of yesterday. To paraphrase the new film the track sums up, 'analogue players in the digital age.'
The album closes with the very exciting SOUL TOWN performed by The Motherload. This track is one of the most engaging and stylish cuts I have heard in a long time and it closes off the series and album perfectly.
David Holmes is probably my favorite modern composer, producer and music personality. OCEAN'S THIRTEEN finds him at the very top of his game. Unless Portishead finally release their long awaited third album I very much doubt that I will like an album more this year than this newest Holmes release.

For info on the soundtrack and samples visit:

For a near twenty minute interview with Holmes where he talks about his influences and his own work visit this link:


Mr. Peel said...

Good piece on these scores and a reminder to me to get the THIRETEEN album very soon. The dialogue on ELEVEN still bugs me--listening to it last night it didn't seem as bad as I'd remembered, but I still wish it wasn't there. I love the album for TWELVE, which almost seems like a fourth volume of Beat at Cinecitta. Can't wait to hear the new one.

Jeremy Richey said...

I agree about the dialogue on Eleven, I like it fine in the film but it really does distract from the great music. I thought his Out Of Sight soundtrack mixed dialogue in much better.
I love the Twelve soundtrack too...great call on comparing it to a forth Beat at Cinecitta album. That completely fits...thanks for commenting and damn that is still one cool shot of Gould.