Seemingly content with being the audio of choice for Steven Soderbergh, The Holy Pictures is a rare solo outing from Northern Irish DJ David Holmes. It's pretty much what you'd expect of this film score master; ten tracks of ambient, atmospherically rich and well-crafted musical experiences. It's just like a film score. In this instance, it's not, but the focus is life in Belfast - so Holmes says.
The album as a whole is very hit-and-miss. For every classic rhythmic experience there are songs you failed to pay any attention to. Background music, if you will. Opening track 'I Heard Wonders' (the first single) featuring Martin Rev is a nu-wave, upbeat and classically-inspired track with a predominant keyboard melody that is both haunting and enchanting. Second track 'Story Of The Ink' then proceeds to lose the pace as it introduces an edgy guitar riff. As well as fading the album out a little, it fades out the listeners' interest.
'Love Reign Over Me' and 'The Holy Pictures' could perhaps be mistaken for new Primal Scream records. Holmes is clearly breaking into new territory but maybe not as much as was needed. It's the title track which is undoubtedly the standout from this ensemble. Gritty and gruff vocals from Leo Abrahams encased over a less-than-holy guitar mean the song works terribly well and is far more memorable than a fair proportion of the rest of the album.
In particular, better results come when Holmes breaks out the synthesiser on 'Melanie' and 'Kill Her With Kindness'. Closing track 'The Ballad Of Sarah And Jack' is a sweet and moving piano-led number. By all accounts, this was the inspiration for the whole album - his mum would have been very proud.
The Holy Pictures as an album has positive points - it's great to chill out to, is well-constructed and extremely melodic. On the downside, many tracks are also forgettable, bland and predictable in style. Whatever you personally think about The Holy Pictures, Holmes has certainly achieved his mandate of an album of experiences, whether they be in Belfast or Bethlehem.