Album Reviews

Barry Adamson – The King of Nothing Hill

(Mute) UK release date: 24 September 2002

Barry Adamson was born and bred in Manchester andtrained as an architect before deciding to give it allup and become a musician. Playing bass with the nowlegendary band Magazine, he was also a founding memberof Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, but is mostlycharacterised by his ‘filmy’ albums, and has indeedbeen involved in several soundtracks.

This latest offering is unsurprisingly heavily influenced byfilm music, and most of the songs follow an obviousnarrative-based storyline. But stylistically,Adamson’s writing on this album owes as much toFreakpower, Courtney Pine, Goldfrapp and The Beatlesas to John Williams.

In each of the 10 songs, we hear funk,soul, jazz, minimalism, dance, sampling andclassical writing, all of which are so beautifullyentwined with each other that the result is one ofabsolutely outstanding musical writing.

Stand-out tracks include Cinematic Soul (a hopelesslyfunky soul-induced jive: “What use is a song / if youcan’t sing a-long”), the brilliant Whispering Streets,the Beatles-inspired That Fool Was Me, and theincredible last track on the album, Cold Comfort,which contains a beautiful female vocal and the mostorgasmic final minute of any song written this year.

Only one track seems out of place, and somewhat of adisappointment: When Darkness Calls has a strongverse, but no real sense of direction.

The King of Nothing Hill is a classic album, andeclipses many recent releases in terms ofmusical writing and breadth of styles. Definitelyworth having in your collection.

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More on Barry Adamson
Barry Adamson – I Will Set You Free
Barry Adamson – Back To The Cat
Barry Adamson – The King of Nothing Hill

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