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James Holden succeeds in his titular request with Imagine This is a High Dimensional Space of All Possibilities

"Imagine This is a High Dimensional Space of All Possibilities"

Release date: 31 March 2023
James Holden - Imagine This Is a High Dimensional Space of All Possibilities cover
05 April 2023, 00:00 Written by Janne Oinonen

The cover art of Imagine This is a High Dimensional Space of All Possibilities is a vibrant surrealist image.

Created by Amsterdam-based illustrator and musician Jorge Velez it depicts a surreal summit between humans, outsized animals and what can only be extra-terrestrials beings, all enraptured into a blissed-out state of oneness by celestial sound waves. The contents of James Holden’s first album since 2017 would provide an ideal soundtrack for such an unusual gathering.

Holden has spoken of longing to be an active participant in the early rave movement long before he was old enough to run away with that particular circus. Imagine could in some small but significant way be construed as a nostalgic nod towards the unguarded enthusiasms of the producer’s teenage self.

However, Holden is far too adventurous and open-eared to resort to a pastiche-riddled attempt at replicating past sounds. The album’s most energetic moments (the thudding, bleep-fueled first movement of epic nine-minute first single “Contains Multitudes”, the unstoppable beat juggernaut of “Continuous Revolution”) could certainly soundtrack a rave, but not necessarily one that is taking place on this planet or in our actual lived reality. Full of immersive synths and exquisite, hypnotic gradual transfers from exuberantly turbulent uplift to gentle aural balm, Imagine is genuinely fit to transport the listener to a different place.

Even at its most uncomplicatedly direct, Imagine packs a bewildering and borderline disorientating (in a very good way) array of musical ideas, with results that combine dense layering and wealth of detail with plenty of alluring spaces between the notes for the listener to get lost in. It marks a return to more explicitly electronic music after Holden’s heady trip into psychedelic electro-jazz on 2017’s superb The Animal Spirits, but the surfaces are brighter and somehow more warmly inviting than on 2013’s seminal The Inheritors. Holden has spoken of wanting to create an uncynical, welcoming record and propulsive yet soothing moments like “Common Land” (complete with sax that could have escaped from Gerry Rafferty’s MOR classic “Baker Street”) achieve this with ease.

Imagine This is a High Dimensional Space of All Possibilities is one of those rare records that is very long but doesn’t seem to have an idle moment. The album becomes deeper and more rewarding with each consecutive track, concluding with the monster knockout of “Worlds Collide Mountains Form” (propelled by a momentous bass rumble) and the extensive, sprawling electro-prog opus “The Answer Is Yes”, which builds from an ambiently gliding throb to a majestic breakout of kosmische guitar which would work as a tribute (intentional or otherwise) to German proto-electronica pioneers Michael Rother (of Neu! and Harmonia) and Manuel Göttsching.

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