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Friday, January 8, 2010

Adrian Belew: Side Three


1) Troubles; 2) Incompetence Indifference; 3) Water Turns To Wine; 4) Crunk; 5) Drive; 6) Cinemusic; 7) Whatever; 8) Men In Helicopters V4.0; 9) Beat Box Car; 10) Truth Is; 11) The Red Bull Rides A Boomerang Across The Blue Constellation; 12) &.

I fully understand the desire to end Side Three with a reworked version of 'Ampersand' (here, given its far more laconic symbolic equivalent '&'); it adds a last-minute touch of coherence and conceptuality to Adrian's three-headed dragon. Less understandable is a set of new variations on 'Beat Box Guitar' ('Beat Box Car'), and completely less understandable is yet another version of 'Men In Helicopters', practically the same as on Belewprints but with the addition of a martial per­cussion overdub. That's three songs that we already know well — on an album with a running time of 38:40?

Unlike the poppier Side One and the weirder Side Two, this one brings on an Op Zop Too Wah style synthesis of the two sides, and the pop element of it, once again, succeeds a bit better than the odd element — for reasons already explained in the previous review. But even the pop songs seem outtakish; the funky 'Troubles' and 'Incompetence Indifference' are the best of the lot, yet neither produces any fresh impressions. And too much of this, once again, is in the guise of «links» or raw demos, enceinte with musical glory but aborting it after one minute of pregnancy (e. g. 'Truth Is', which could have been a beautiful ballad in the vein of some of Adrian's late pe­riod King Crimson songs, but ends almost before we realize it).

Overall, it just looks to me like Adrian wanted to get over with this as soon as possible, so as to resume touring with his hands free of studio matters, and certainly Side Three does not deserve its own lengthy review. As a coda, it works well; but my final opinion is that releasing all of these songs as three separate albums has been the worst art-structure decision ever since, at the very least, the dissection of Kill Bill. On its own, Side Three is decidedly a thumbs down; but there is simply no reason to judge it on its own.

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