Junkie XL – Synthesized
When Junkie XL burst onto the scene in the mid-’90s with his amazing genre-twisting groundbreaking remixes for the likes of Fear Factory and his own killer electronic music as well I instantly became a huge fan. His albums Saturday Teenage Kick and Big Sounds Of The Drags blew my mind with their innovative approach. Then he hit it massive with his Junkie XL vs. Elvis “A Little Less Conversation” remix, and something changed. After that it seemed like with each successive album every track in the listing read “Junkie XL Song” (featuring So-And-So) as he built his work more around guest vocalists than his own sounds and became, in my mind, more of a follower than a trail blazer. By the release of 2008’s Booming Back At You I decided I was bored and basically let him drop from my radar.
Recently I have noticed Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) has come surging back onto the scene with his exciting and fresh soundtrack work, some of it as a partner composer with the legendary Hans Zimmer. In the last few years he has created excellent scores for the blockbusting films Divergent, Mad Max Fury Road, Batman v Superman, Deadpool and the newly released Dark Tower. This, and a conversation with my buddy Joe X, got me thinking about Junkie XL’s catalog. Looking back I realized I had never picked up his final album release before transitioning to doing film music exclusively, 2012’s Synthesized.
While I am not sure how I would have reacted to it at the time it was released, 5 years later on I can tell you I loved it from the first spin. His efforts here seem more genuine. Yes there are a number of guests but their appearances compliment the tracks, not dominate them. I especially love the Timothy Leary recordings on “Leave Behind Your Ego” and I also quite liked “When Is Enough Not Enough” with its vocal provided by Curt Smith of Tears For Fears. Aside from these the other tracks represent many eras of computerized dance music. There’s House, Techno, Electro and even some amazing Downtempo compositions on here. The top standout track to me is the Orb-esque album closer, “The Art Of Luxurious Intergalactic Time Travel”. The title even sounds like it was ripped straight from Alex Patterson’s brain which I’m pretty sure Mr. Holkenborg intended. All in all I’m glad I made this foray back into Junkie XL’s non-soundtrack career. Maybe someday he will do the same. If so I’ll be here to listen.