New York is the bomb, man!" an unidentified man intones at the beginning of Irish club maven David Holmes' U.S.
debut, Lets Get Killed. Indeed, from Frank Sinatra to Lou Reed to Sonic Youth, the city has inspired amazing music.
Lets Get Killed is Holmes' love letter to the Big Apple: He lays sampled pieces of conversation and other noise from
the city's streets over grooves that touch on nearly every club-music style in vogue today, from trip-hop to drum-and-bass.
Unfortunately, Holmes' attempts to appropriate Manhattan's energy don't go far enough – his tower
of babble serves mainly as ambient window dressing.
The Irishman's skill as a mix master does sometimes cut through the chitchat, however.
On the up-tempo title track, Holmes adeptly layers beats over a background of
crowded-party noise; a lone piano note resonates as he builds drum-and-bass rhythms on top of one another
like a master DJ winding up a dance floor. Elsewhere, Holmes tries to be a jack-of-all-dance-music-trades,
with mixed results. "Gritty Shaker" trip-hops over boring acid-jazz tropes; "Slashers Revenge," on the other hand,
pulses with ominous dub atmospherics, and "Caddell Returns" exudes psychedelic grandeur. Holmes missteps badly, though,
on "Radio 7," a limp, gimmicky techno update of the "James Bond Theme." Unlike Holmes' otherwise ambitious experiments,
"Radio 7" reduces electronica to nostalgic novelty, a dangerous precedent if the genre is to maintain its vitality as it
enters the mainstream.
If Holmes wants a dose of real New York, he should check out Haze Presents New York Reality Check 101,
a compilation assembled by graffiti legend Haze and Gang Starr's DJ Premier that highlights Manhattan's
underground hip-hop scene. Don't expect obvious samples and cooing female-vocal choruses à la Puff Daddy here,
Instead, verbal skills and def(t) turntablism rule the roost on cuts like J-Live's bumping "Braggin' Writes" and
Company Flow's menacing "8 Steps to Perfection." Premier, however, steals the show, slicing and dicing the tracks
with muscular scratching so that they flow together like a DJ mix tape. He epitomizes the maxim that, as Haze Presents
amply demonstrates, many New York rappers still take to heart: When it comes to hip-hop, all one needs to do is to put
beats to the rhyme. (RS 778)
2. My Mate Paul
3. Let's Get Killed
4. Gritty Shaker
5. Head Rush on LaFayette
6. Rodney Yates
7. Radio 7'
8. Parcus & Madder Show, The
9. Slashers Revenge
11. Caddell Returns
12. Don't Die Just Yet
13. For You