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  • Born

    7 June 1979 (age 39)

  • Born In

    Exeter, Devon, England, United Kingdom

In the last few years, Holden has only released collaborations: three swirling folk dances with Moroccan Gnawa musician Maalem Mahmoud Guinia, and a 47-minute tribute to minimalist shaman Terry Riley with tabla player Camilo Tirado.

The Animal Spirits is an album-length amalgamation of all of these collaborative projects, expanding his live setup with Tom Page to include saxophonist Etienne Jaumet (who previously lent his freeform skronk to The Inheritors), cornetist Marcus Hamblett, multi-instrumentalist Liza Bec on recorders and North African ghaïta, and Lascelle Gordon of free jazz group Woven Entity.

It’s also his most dramatic rejection yet of anything resembling “dance music” in the functional, DJ-led sense. The album was recorded live in one room at Holden’s Sacred Walls studio in London: single takes, no overdubs, no edits. While his modular synth still guides much of the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic material, Holden occupies the role of bandleader rather than frontman, simply laying the stage for his collaborators’ off-the-cuff creativity; he specifically names Don Cherry and Pharoah Sanders as inspirations, drawing a link between the universal preoccupations of their spiritual jazz albums and the sense of ritual abandon at the heart of what Holden calls “folk-trance.”

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