James Holden & The Animal Spirits - The Animal Spirits
Critic Score
Based on 15 reviews
2017 Ratings: #194 / 880
User Score
Based on 59 ratings
2017 Ratings: #114
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The Skinny

While it's a million miles from the techno of Holden’s earlier career, its rhythms and hooks are infectious. The Animal Spirits is, put frankly, one of the most complex, immersive and impressive albums of the year.

Loud and Quiet
Dramatic, colourful and Holden’s fullest-sounding work yet, ‘The Animal Spirits’ is another positive mutation for a musician who, you sense, is only just getting going.
The 405

The Animal Spirits is an impermeable fog that tells music’s derivative predilections to fuck the fuck off. The record is a lot of things and also unquestionably not, for the most part embodying an impregnable and extraordinary soundscape that fortifies itself against deconstruction, but its one truly distinctive quality is that it’s the precise opposite of boring.

Crack Magazine

Aesthetically the trappings may have changed, but The Animal Spirits is James Holden in head-turningly impressive form, applying his mind to a new modality and conjuring up beautiful, baroque and beguiling results.

The Line of Best Fit

Simultaneously more overtly experimental yet more easily accessible - even the most cacophonous warble here is rooted in strong melodies - than Holden's past output, The Animal Spirits is a triumph that makes rigidly electronic textures seem so last year.


On his third LP, James Holden establishes a sound wholly his own, allowing The Animal Spirits' gorgeous, absorbing and wonderfully unkempt mix of psych, jazz, folk and electronic to infiltrate the listener's psyche.

Resident Advisor

As with The Inheritors, the tracks were all recorded in one take, and move from euphoric melodies to intense improvisations. But this album is a fuller realisation of Holden's vision, as kaleidoscopic as the prog rock LPs to which he's clearly indebted.

The result is the gloriously kaleidoscopic sound of Holden evolving as a musician, which he has thoroughly earned through years of pushing at boundaries.

The leap Holden has made from The Inheritors is colossal—now a bandleader of a live ensemble rather than a solitary synth programmer, he has opened the door to an entirely different sort of career for himself, one where concerns for the dancefloor shrink away to nothing, and the possibilities of repetition are infinite.

The Guardian
If there’s a slight problem here, it’s with the rather lame tenor saxophonist. These soundscapes require a Pharoah Sanders-style voyager who can fly us into stratospheric realms, but unfortunately, Etienne Jaumet’s solos just splutter along the runway without ever achieving lift-off.
This was a wonderful album that came out to little fanfare toward the end of the year. Great blend of James Holden's intricate, busy electronic music and very primal, live-feeling elements that includes chanting and chorus vocals, a lot of really upbeat rhythmic drums, big builds and swelling climaxes, a great runtime. Very original electronic album and I hope it gets some more love as list season continues.
Expected so much more from a holden project, none the less this is a unique collection of sound, so give it a listen it may the version of Holden or of IDM that you've been searching for
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Track List

  1. Incantation For Inanimate Object
  2. Spinning Dance
  3. Pass Through the Fire
  4. Each Moment Like the First
  5. The Beginning & End of the World
  6. Thunder Moon Gathering
  7. The Animal Spirits
  8. The Neverending
  9. Go Gladly Into the Earth
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Added on: August 16, 2017