on 28 October 2002
Great stuff. Anyone who bought Holmes excellent compilation 'Come Get It I Got It' already has a fairly good idea of what to expect, as several of the tunes were partially used there: large slabs of cyberfunk laced with soul, funk and jazz influences. It's obvious that he's chosen his collaborators well - Revron is a great MC with a boggly eyed 'rubber wallpaper and back-to front jacket' style (Don't Rhyme No Mo, Free Ass OC8)and Petra has a delicious loungecore voice that drips from your speakers ('Wooden Heart', '...Broom'). The backing music is superb - previous Holmes efforts established a groove and ploughed it (albeit brilliantly - Gritty Shaker, 69 Police) for 6 minutes, but here the music has evolved further and is more richly layered and textured. And its funky as hell...far funkier than 'Exit Sign'. All in all its further evidence to justify Alan McGees call for Holmes to be knighted for services to music.
on 13 December 2003
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.
David Holmes' 2002 mix album Come Get It I Got It was created in collaboration with Steve Hilton, who also works as a programmer/composer for Craig Armstrong and David Arnold, and amongst the freaky vinyl and deep soul rediscoveries, featured the pair creating some new linking music under the guise of the Free Association. The decision for the Free Association to become a live act meant expanding the line-up to a core four-piece, with the addition of the Bay Area MC Sean Reveron and the singer Petra Jean Phillipson. A few months later the band spent 10 days in the basement studio at LA's Sunset Marquis with mix engineer Michael Patterson recording this debut album.
Although it originally came out in 2002, it was re-released the following year with the addition of recent single Sugar Man, featuring backing vocals by 61-year old Mexican-American anti-establishment legend Sixto Rodriguez, whose original 1969 version of the song had been the opening track on Come Get It, I Got It. The song was recorded in New York in April 2003 by David Holmes with Rodriguez, who drove in from Detroit especially for the sessions because he didn't want to risk taking his guitar on the plane. It is just one of many weird and wonderful, often unexpected delights to be found here.
The singles (I Wish I Had) A Wooden Heart (newly re-recorded for this edition of the album) and Everybody Knows perfectly demonstrate the Free Association fusion of sounds with a giddy and powerful rush of craziness and rhythms, crackling with energy and topped by bluesy trip-hoppy vocals and madcap rapping. The band memorably performed both songs on Later With Jools Holland in November 2002 and totally ripped the joint, raising the question, where do these amazing singers spring from?
Sean Reveron (now aka Exodus 77), was born in 1969 and grew up in Hollywood, where his mother waitressed at the Whiskey A Go Go. Too young to leave at home, he would be left in the cocktail booth there but would get out to see all the bands. Kicked out of home for awhile at 15 because of his anti-social lifestyle in the local skate parks where he discovered punk, he moved to San Francisco where Drew Bernstein from the band Crucifix became his legal guardian. Rejoining his mother and spending time in Jamaica, he got involved with a dub soundsystem, later moving in with Augustus Pablo and Junior Delgado in Kingston. Still a teenager, he studied African History at UC Berkeley and discovered hip-hop, working over the next years with Tupac Shakur, KRS-1 and Q-Tip. A period away from music in New York ended when he hooked up with the Beta Band, performing with them in London and Glastonbury, and moving to live in London.
Perhaps unexpectedly, Petra Jean Phillipson has a double life as a conservator at St. Paul's Cathedral. Born in Ashford, Kent in 1973, she formed a band when she was eight, and also spent some childhood years in Australia. Hip-hop was an early love and she was also a fan of KRS-1. A year's art foundation course at St. Martin's was followed by an art degree course in Bath where she produced installations and ran a hip hop night there called The Swamp. She was in various "all girl punk funk line ups" singing and playing guitar, and recorded for Fierce Panda. A period of globe-trotting ended for a while in New York, but she returned to London and over the years has provided session vocals for The Beta Band (perhaps encountering Sean at this time?), Martina Topley-Bird, the Mad Professor, Marc Almond, Grand Drive and others. She met David Holmes through Martina Topley-Bird, a close friend who lived near her London home. One day he phoned her out of the blue to invite her to do some vocals in LA with him.
Though unique, the band's sound would not sit unhappily alongside Death In Vegas or even Primal Scream, marrying a nineties ethic with more contemporary soundboard trickery. Pushin' A Broom stands out with Petra Jean contributing a vocal tour-de-force. Throw into the mix some Hitchcockian orchestration and David Lynch darkness and you have some idea of the heady psychedelic punk-funk odyssey in store
on 23 October 2002
After listening to the Free Association on 'Come Get It I Got It' and the rocky and quite experimental nature of the music I was surprised at the quality of the music off this album. From the opening track 'I don't rhyme no mo', a great slice of dirty Hip-hop to the track that basically a remix of one off CGIIGI but is ten times better. Just a few slow moments but it's still a very good album from a very good artist.