David Holmes wasn’t the first Irishman to make the pilgrimage from the old country to New York, but the city’s madness had a profound effect on his life and music. Wandering the boroughs of a metropolis still yet to be culturally emasculated by Rudy Giuliani’s love of gentrification, armed with a DAT recorder the then 17 year old found eccentricity, sleaze and darkness in conversations with it’s inhabitants. It was a street tableau which would become the inspiration for his second album, Let’s Get Killed.
The stories poured out onto tape as told by the hustlers, pimps and junkies themselves, created a sonic picture of a place which never slept because you always had to keep one eye open. The locals weren’t always friendly either – the album’s title was inspired by an incident in the South Bronx. But Holmes is a lover of oral traditions himself and wove them into a soundtrack for a film which never existed, bonding amongst many elements funk, soul, post punk and musique concrete together and in the process turning Manhattan into a giant open air studio.
Rodney Yates is just one of it’s Mancini/Schifrin moments, along with interludes like the Bond theme rework of Radio 7. Joined by Keith Tenniswood of Two Lone Swordsmen, the Hollywood vibes play out over the scene where the good guy takes the thing in the attache case to the bad guy to save the girl; underscored by an elegant Latin groove and wispy guitar, it felt very distant from the ecstacy and sweat soaked raves of Holmes’ Belfast adolescence. And it was – about three thousand miles away, if you’re checking.