13 Amp - 2002 - 42 minutes

Ex-mod David Holmes has a musical monkey on his back. He's already done the DJ mix album (twice), released his own albums as producer (three times) and produced award-winning scores for Hollywood blockbusters. Now, with this release by 'The Free Association' he has finally revealed himself as the leader of a rock band.

The Free Association first saw the light of day as the providers of the fuzzadelic interludes on Holmes' 2002 mix album 'Come Get It I Got It'. Those snippets were annoying enough to bode badly for their debut album, but despite a curiously dated sound, 'Presents...' has enough rough and rocking grooves to engage.

Setting himself at the centre of a triangle comprising mix engineer Mike Patterson, growling Bay Area rapper Sean Reveron and Beth Gibbons/Roisin Murphy soundalike, Petra Jean Phillipson; Holmes has produced a record with a lot in common with the Big Beat sound of the mid-90s (90s nostalgia begins here?).

The drums pound, the effects fuzz and chug while Reveron rolls out his lyrics and Philipson lays her jazzy keening over alternate tracks. 'Pushin' A Broom' is the stand-out track, evoking the superbly grandiose sound of 70s soul as Petra Jean uses every emotional trick in her bag.

Phillipson's contributions mark the best tracks on the album, as MC Sean Reveron sounds a little behind the curve. In a post-Roots Manuva universe this style of rapping seems a tad conventional. And if this grungy, dark version of Faithless doesn't appeal, then Holmes' old fanbase will warm to 'Paper Underwear', an instrumental that could be swept off Let's Get Killed's cutting room floor.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Don't Rhyme No Mo - I Wish I Had A Wooden Heart - Le Baggage - Free Ass O-C-8 - Somedays - Everybody Knows - Pushin' A Broom - La Dolce Vita - Paper Underwear - Whistlin' Down The Wind