Wednesday, August 19, 1998

As above, so below

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 1998 at 12:00 AM

The ex-bassist of Magazine and Nick Cave's Bad Seeds, Barry Adamson has slowly mutated over the years into a master of musical suspense. With several instrumental albums of near-Hitchcockian proportions under his belt, this latest interpretation of film-noir intrigue adds another interesting color to Adamson's sonic palette -- his voice. In a cool, low moan slightly akin to Mr. Cave's lighter moments, Adamson explores a variety of motifs that extend his diabolically kitschy persona. Like an underground Hammer movie directed by David Lynch, this disc is a cool invocation of Adamson's eternal battle between the good and evil within himself (and us all).

Speaking of Lynch, the infamous filmmaker employed Adamson to score the original music for Lost Highway, a fact that only strengthens the case being made here. Adamson employs faux-spy movie orchestrations, a dark lounge glamorismo, and particularly selective sampling. Produced by Adamson and occasionally assisted by mega-mixmaster Flood, As Above, So Below includes references to the electronic punk sounds of the '70s band Suicide as well as the songwriting of Doc Pomus.

On songs like "The Monkey Speaks His Mind" and "Jazz Devil" Adamson displays a penchant for surrealistic wordplay and relentless self-reference. With superb musicianship, splendid sound production and damn clever imagery, Adamson stays in character throughout and provides a unified, cohesive soundtrack to a movie that has yet to be made. I guess the only thing left to say about As Above,So Below is that I give an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

Mitch Myers writes about music for the Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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