One of those criminally ignored albums upon its release in late 2002, David Holmes' pet project gets granted a welcome re-release complete with the addition of recent single 'Sugarman' (cover of Rodriguez's folk classic - all jazzed up in a Holmes-esque fashion). While this has Holme's presence stamped all over it - it is the addition of two vocalists that make this album so complete.
NY MC Sean Reveron makes a claim for campest (check him out live...), and most versatile lyricist around with his cuts - playful one minute, darkly sinister the next. The title track/band anthem 'Free Ass O-C-8 is proof of the man's skill, tossing around lines like 'Free the peas upon my plate' and 'It's not too late/so go create' over one of the most hypnotic basslines you'll have heard in a while.
Whilst Reveron is the pulse of The Free Association, Petra-Jean Philipson is the soul. With the most composed yet startling vocal performance of this reviewer's recent memory, Philipson's intoxicating tones dance merrily over the jazz-funk-rock-hip-hop odyssey cooked up by Holmes and the 4th component of the Free Ass, programmer/guitarist Steve Hilton. She manages to captivate throughout, even on the most mellow of tracks, like the closer, 'Whistlin' Down The Wind' - as a listener, you're begging for the next line as she carves her magic. A solo outing would be greatly anticipated.
The Free Association are difficult to categorise. Fans of Holmes's soundtrack work will see view this record as a great musical stylist finding his niche. New followers will simply hear a very promising new band simply brimming with invention. As a footnote - make sure you catch this band live. I promise you will be thoroughly entertained.