In the latest update on my website, I’ve included three releases by James Holden. The first release (chonologically) was Balance005, the second was “At the Controls”, and this is the third. Each release stands in stark contrast to its predecessor. With “The Idiots Are Winning”, we see James Holden releasing a disc of his own productions, all of which are what I’d call rich and textured minimal affairs. Considering the progressive nature of Balance 005, this is a dramatic directional change by Mr. Holden, a change that was made in just a few short years – but really I guess that may as well be an eternity in the dance music world.
I like this album well enough. . . I can appreciate the tracks in terms of their direction and production. I can appreciate and understand when someone uses noise in their production, be it The Jesus and Mary Chain in “Pscyho Candy” or James Holden on this disc. But in general it’s not a style of music I’m absolutely bonkers about. Minimal music is something that I can appreciate. It’s something that on occasion I’ll seek out to listen to. But as a staple to my music listening appetite, I prefer other offerings.
I also wonder this - When a DJ/Producer goes down this minimal road, where do they go from there? As I asked on the homepage, is it a music dead end?
The critical reviews have been generally positive. Here’s what others have had to say about “The Idiots are Winning”:
Devon-born James Holden has, in The Idiots are Winning produced the kind of ambient yet schizophrenic blissful noise that raises the bar for producers in all fields of electronica and opens up new doors to what the field can actually achieve.
Having worked tirelessly for years, since the days his 12"s were championed by Judge Jules and Pete Tong, James Holden has presented us with an achievement that is enjoyably uneasy, wholly absorbing and ebbs him to the peak of his game. A masterful record.
If we take a look at the tracklist, we’ll see 10 tracks very different
one from another, which can surely make a Holden’s fan become curious to see what’s hidden behind the signature,”The idiots are Winning”.
But a true Holden’s fan has at least 4 or 5 DJ sets (dosen’t matter if they are legal or not) and knows pretty well what kind of music
plays Holden. This is why when a fan listens to the album for the first time, will see that there’s only one play he doesn’t know.
The rest are tracks that Holden has played many times in his sets. A thing to blame? Yes, but not totally.
I’d say that „The idiots are winning” is a very good markting trick. Since the tracks are gathred along the time and put together in a material, practically this album brings nothing new. Lump was officially included in the Cd mix Suck My Decks of Damian Lazarus in July 2005. After thatIntentionally Left Blank can’t be considered an offense to the listeners, since the track contains two empty sounded minutes.
A far cry from the gushing, widescreen productions that made him prog’s wunderkind at the start of the noughties, the
contemporary James Holden sound takes the melodious motifs and dramatic builds of trance and micro-edits the living hell out of them
until they’re all but unrecognizable. The results are frequently extraordinary, as anyone who has heard his unhinged, psychedelic
dubs of Britney Spears’ ‘Breathe on Me’ or Andre Kraml’s ‘Safari’ will attest.
A far cry from the gushing, widescreen productions that made him prog’s wunderkind at the start of the noughties, the contemporary James Holden sound takes the melodious motifs and dramatic builds of trance and micro-edits the living hell out of them until they’re all but unrecognizable. The results are frequently extraordinary, as anyone who has heard his unhinged, psychedelic dubs of Britney Spears’ ‘Breathe on Me’ or Andre Kraml’s ‘Safari’ will attest.
Holden is without doubt one of the most original and interesting producers around, and so one can forgive him a certain self-indulgence, but ‘The Idiots are Winning’ is not the perfect balance of emotion and abstraction which we know from his previous singles that he is entirely capable of. This feels like more like a collection of fragments than a rush of intense, formal artistry.
Far from a teenager, but still growing as both an individual and musician, not everyone is happy with new paths James chooses to take. Nevertheless, it's historically evident – brilliant minds are often misunderstood and criticized. One thing's for sure – James is one of the only artists that has always evolved and stayed true to himself, his desires and goals, changing the world of electronic music all the while. The artist formerly known as James Holden may have dropped the first name, but as Holden's 'The Idiots Are Winning' EP is released, the recognition, anticipation and excitement are ever-present.
Thus, despite its strange idiosyncrasies and some risqué, merely functional sounds, this is an absolutely top notch creation, no matter how many people will buy it, love it or hate it. The inclusion of functional tracks alongside the grand, full length productions also makes this release accessible to both a popular and niche market at the same time - something that rarely happens in one release. Now, one can only imagine what the future may bring from Mr. Holden after this. 'The Idiots Are Winning' is an EP incomparable and fundamentally perfect in its nature, content and ideology. Brilliant – musically and artistically.