Album Reviews

Barry Adamson – The King Of Nothing Hill

(Mute) UK release date: 24 September 2002

Barry Adamson - The King Of Nothing Hill Barry Adamson was born and bred in Manchester and trained as an architect before deciding to give it all up and become a musician. Playing bass with the now legendary band Magazine, he was also a founding member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, but is mostly characterised by his ‘filmy’ albums, and has indeed been involved in several soundtracks.

This latest offering is unsurprisingly heavily influenced by film music, and most of the songs follow an obvious narrative-based storyline. But stylistically, Adamson’s writing on this album owes as much to Freakpower, Courtney Pine, Goldfrapp and The Beatles as to John Williams.

In each of the 10 songs, we hear funk, soul, jazz, minimalism, dance, sampling and classical writing, all of which are so beautifully entwined with each other that the result is one of absolutely outstanding musical writing.

Stand-out tracks include Cinematic Soul (a hopelessly funky soul-induced jive: “What use is a song / if you can’t sing a-long”), the brilliant Whispering Streets, the Beatles-inspired That Fool Was Me, and the incredible last track on the album, Cold Comfort, which contains a beautiful female vocal and the most orgasmic final minute of any song written this year. Only one track seems out of place, and somewhat of a disappointment: When Darkness Calls has a strong verse, but no real sense of direction.

The King Of Nothing Hill is a classic album, and eclipses many recent releases in terms of musical writing and breadth of styles. Definitely worth having in your collection.

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Barry Adamson – The King Of Nothing Hill