Junkie XL – Big Sounds Of The Drags

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Dutchman Tom Holkenborg AKA Junkie XL’s second album BIG SOUNDS OF THE DRAGS was released in 2000, but serves as the main musical input into fellow countryman Robert Jan Westdijk’s film SIBERIA. In a similar marriage of beats and celluloid to German indie hit RUN LOLA RUN, the album’s excursions into chemical-fuelled rhythm form a highly credible backdrop to a tale of contemporary underground life in a European city.

For the most part, this album is a big beat extravaganza, throwing euphoric strings (ZEROTONINE) or The Silver Surfing Rudeboy’s (he of Urban Dance Squad) rap (POWER OF THE BIG SLACKS) into the mix to add a bit of variety. Some of the tracks are a lot longer than those found on debut album SATURDAY TEENAGE KICK, and are quite happy to wander off into blissed out ambient territory when the mood takes them.

…All of which makes the appearance of two of metal’s most respected guitarists among all the beats and strings even more curious. Junkie XL used to be on Roadrunner, home of Fear Factory, Sepultura and Soulfly, and BIG SOUNDS OF THE DRAGS features none other than Dino Cazares (of the first) and Max Calvera (formerly of the second, now of the third).

This is music that easily transcends genre – Junkie XL have toured with the Prodigy and Underworld, as well as Pitchshifter and Gravity Kills – and will appeal to fans of all electronic music. BIG SOUNDS OF THE DRAGS is longer and more ambitious than SATURDAY TEENAGE KICK, but it is also a more coherent work.

5 stars