It is a brave man indeed who comes back to dance music after 15 years out – braver still when the man who returns from the cold does so armed with a brand new style.
Yet here he is, the ‘killer‘ himself – Adamski, rolling up to the door with a big guest list in tow and a clutch of new ideas, looking to bring some originality back to the dancefloor. His argument is a compelling one, that ‘four to the floor’ music – thrilling as it can be in the right hands – has fallen on hard times, and is not necessarily the future.
To put this right Adamski looks back for inspiration, not to the old school but something far more ancient than that. To achieve his aim he has decided to party like it’s 1799 – 1799 on mainland Europe, where the waltz was king. It is quite a thought, equating Viennese and German waltzes with dubstep and broken beat – but when you take a closer look Adamski’s vision is actually not that far-fetched, for both forms have a lot in common in terms of social impact, with dancing then – as now – seen as a release from the day-to-day.
So how does Adamski get us thinking in three rather than four? He begins with the electro-waltz 3Step4Ever, tongue firmly in it cheek with a title Craig David would have been proud of back in 1999. Golden Brown, the triple-time The Stranglers favourite, is there to remind us of pop’s three-in-a-bar history, and this cover gets a good work-over from vocalist Shanki. Boo Pope, a collaboration with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, is an extraordinary piece of work, the duo roughing up a sample from the Dies irae of Verdi’s Requiem with a squelchy bass and all manner of atmospherics, not to mention a vocal sample or two that won’t please all Catholics out there.
The more serious tones of Leaving U bring an unexpected reminder of the strings in Kylie Minogue‘s Confide In Me, while at the other end of the spectrum Useless Man is initially funny for its hand-to-mouth shock phrases – ‘shit stabbing’ and ‘piss drinking’ are relatively tame examples – but then tires in repetition. Making a much more substantial impact is Num Generation, sweetly sung by a reflective Digital Cocaine, and taking on a new perspective when Adamski introduces a florid piece of piano playing to go with it.
Elsewhere on this sprawling 20-track album, Oom Dada is endearingly odd, Asia Argento‘s soothing vocal matched to a macabre harpsichord waltz and a number of blips and boings from the assembled electronics, while in a moment of inspiration David McAlmont arrives to guest on The Last Waltz, an ideal if unexpected match of producer and vocalist.
Hearing a whole dance album (especially one as long as this) in 3/4 time is something of a revolution, so Adamski deserves great credit for sticking to his guns and doing something radically different. It might not be wholly successful but that could be due simply to our unfamiliarity as listeners with music that manages to be different in an instinctive way. For that he deserves a round of applause. Back in the 1990s Adamski could frequently be seen in a cap. Not for us though – we’re doffing ours to his return after an age in the wilderness.