An extraterrestrial and shamanic collaboration in sound and audience hypnotism from James Holden.
The auspicious surroundings of the leafy University of Sussex campus find an eclectic line up of DJ-cum-band leader James Holden, and his Animal Spirits, with support in the guise of Free Love
in an impressive plush 60s auditorium.
Free Love, aka Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook, are a Glasgow electronic psych-trip duo that have created a stir in recent months since a name change (they were previously known as Happy Meals) with support slots for Flaming Lips and Liars. Tonight’s set is stripped back and purposefully ethereal with lit incense twirling its smoke around the stage and huge backdrop projections of natural scenes interspersed with electronic scenes and riotous cityscapes. Their spiralling synth sounds, pan pipes and shrill echoing vocals merge into a single cryptic signal and a mass of eclectic noise. This is what it feels like to be inside a TV looking out.
James Holden and the Animal Spirits is a musical project from Holden
that delivered their self-titled album in 2017 on his own label Border Community. The band consisting of drums, percussion, trumpet and woodwind creates a rich, spiralling soundscape, with washes of electronica supplied by Holden that ably combines EDM, jazz and world music influences into something truly unique.
Psychedelic lava lights twist around the room and an 8-bit projection of Holden behind the stage turns the TV set into a giant children’s Kaleidoscope.
The music treads the line between DJ and band collective, but the beat never separates from the melody and keep it consistently musical. Songs that appear as formless jams take form when reflected back by the shaking, nodding, swaying crowd. A sonic collaboration is in progress, with the band’s signal sent having been received by the audience and returned with a collective reciprocity. What’s produced is extraterrestrial and even shamanic.
James Holden clearly loses himself in his directorial duties with the electro undercurrent in his charge, leading the band that stare captivated at him. Only breaking concentration to flash shy smiles and graceful thanks between songs.
By the conclusion the audience is enticed, enthralled and ultimately hypnotised. Any resistance is broken down as they collectively become part of the experience, a willing and necessary extension of this exciting band.
Listen to James Holden - The Animal Spirits in full below
Photo credits: ACCA and Adam Higgitt