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Bow Down To The Exit Sign
Holmer may be our last hope, a vinyl junkie who evidently doesn't give a fiddler's fuck for ersatz (or otherwise) notions of lineage, tradition, nationality.
Peter Murphy, 08 Jun 2000
Holmer may be our last hope, a vinyl junkie who evidently doesn't give a fiddler's fuck for ersatz (or otherwise) notions of lineage, tradition, nationality. Indeed, Holmes ain't really Irish at all; he hails from that far flung colony established by Afrika Bambaataa 20 years ago - Planet Rock. His avant exile affinities lie with crackpot paddy sons of Ra like Kevin Shields rather than any careerist contemporaries, north or south of the border.
It's not even as though DH comes bearing the equation for reproducing Pythagoras' monochord - in fact, if he has any vision, it's as fragmented as that of a fly. Rather, he's living proof of the old adage that genius steals rather than borrows. Holmes' tones are feverish, fecund, messy - he's less an aesthete or a synaesthesiast (like, say, Howie B) so much as a graffiti guerilla. If you dug the molten freeform fuzzjazz of 'Blood Money' off the last Primal Scream opus, there's plenty more where that came from.
So, Bow Down To The Exit Sign is suffused with the hot colours of Miles' downtown funk; the dirty jungle rock of The Stooges (particularly 'Sick City', unsurprisingly featuring one B. Gillespie); grotty exotica ('Slip Your Skin') and hex-and-drugs swamp-rock ('Bad Thing', replete with a walk-on from Dr. Jon Spencer): all in all, an action painter's polyglot of sounds and shades.
But you just can't downplay the cinematic factor - David Holmes is as much an old-skool auteur as an abstract expressionist. When he's not constructing actual soundtracks (Resurrection Man, Out Of Sight) he's tinkering with imaginary ones. Like Let's Get Killed, Bow Down . . . is littered with scraps of dialogue, this time filched from an in-development script called Living Room. Accordingly, a cut like 'Drexler's Apt. - Aftermath, Afternoon' not only reads but plays like a movie cue. And, at the risk of labouring a point, the Performance allusions are obvious but apt: hallucinogenic Hammonds channelled through what sound like revolving Lesley cabinets, proto hip-hop ` la The Last Poets, plus beat prose courtesy of Carl Hancock Rux, all coming to a head on the fusion fission of 'Incite A Riot'.
Another attribute which sets Holmes' apart from his classmates: he thrives on a multi rather than monoculture, his muse subsists on a diet of strange fruits, 'erbs and spices. The press-ganging of former Tricky co-vocalist Martine Toppley-Bird - delivering a kind of Kate Bush in-your-ear uneasiness on 'Out Run' and 'Zero Tolerance' - only adds to the red-light paranoia.
Without a doubt, Bow Down To The Exit Sign's monkey puzzle mix of arcane electronica ('69 Police' evokes the bizarre buzz of first hearing Tubeway Army on the wireless), hot-pavement Crip-hop and feelgood roots/futurism (as perfected by Moby) qualifies it as a landmark album. File between Exterminator and The Contino Sessions. And don't leave earth without it.