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James Holden, Marcus Hamblett and Mark Holub – BBC Sessions: Live at Maida Vale

WILLKOMMEN026 | Released 29th May 2020 | Listen on Spotify

Listen on Spotify here.

  1. Brain Helmet
  2. Lonely Woman
  3. Vibraphone Piece

James Holden – modular synthesizer
Marcus Hamblett – cornet and electric guitar
Mark Holub – drums

Recorded live at Maida Vale studios for BBC Radio3’s Late Junction

Artwork by Thomas Heather
Layout by Raimund Wong
Mastered by Harris Newman

James HoldenMarcus Hamblett and Mark Holub met for the first time on the 19th June, 2015. BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction show’s producer’s invited them to come to the legendary Maida Vale studios as part of a series where musicians collaborate with other musicians they’ve never met before.

Despite coming from quite different musical backgrounds – electronic, folk and jazz – the musicians quickly found a lot of common ground and the music quickly flowed effortlessly. Saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman died just a few days before the session and all three were big fans, so they quickly decided to rework his signature tune, ‘Lonely Woman’, into a somewhat funereal, somewhat joyous ambient drone, (slightly stylistically reminiscent of ‘He Loved Him Madly’, Miles Davis’s tribute to Duke Ellington).

Holden brought a piece in progress, which for reasons unremembered became known on the day as ‘Brain Helmet’. Using Holden’s own ‘group humaniser’ software, Holub’s drumming didn’t have to slavishly follow the synthesizer’s tempo, his playing fed back into the master clock so the modular synth and drummer have a symbiotic relationship. Hamblett improvised on his cornet and the results could be seen as a precursor to Holden’s album The Animal Spirits.

The EP is closed by a frenzied version of Hamblett’s Vibraphone Piece. The album version of this piece begins very smoothly, hinting at the influence of Harry Lyman’s kitsch exotica or Ennio Morricone’s lounge numbers, but appearing here without vibraphone the track is freed up for wild flurries of thunderous drums, fleet fingered distorted guitar and animal wails from Holden’s modular synth. Holden went on to contribute synthesizer to the album version of this track.

Listen to the EP on Spotify here. We have plans to release a physical version on Bandcamp – keep an eye out for details.