Barry Adamson I Will Set You Free Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Adamson lurks in a grimy alleyway connecting movie scoring with roughshod garage rock.

Martin Longley 2012

Barry Adamson brandishes an impressive history, beginning with his bass role in Magazine, running through the early Bad Seeds of Nick Cave, but most significantly gravitating towards his own striking body of work on the Mute label. Adamson’s imagined soundtracks eventually metamorphosed into the real thing, as he collaborated with Derek Jarman and David Lynch.

Adamson lurks in a grimy alleyway that connects expansive movie scoring with roughshod garage rock, touches of pop drama and faded soul glitz gathering around the edges. I Will Set You Free’s opening Set Your Mind Right establishes the murkily romantic 1960s mood, with Adamson’s bass distorted into a violent spillage. Black Holes in My Brain adopts a classic soul template, though slightly perverted by a diseased mind. Turnaround begins as a dreamy pop ballad, switching to a corrupted vocal section, strings swishing into the distance. Adamson is as filmically aware as ever.

The tough-rocking Destination flies above a big drum boom, slamming with riff-rampant momentum. Suddenly, it jackknifes into an unexpectedly poppy chorus. Once again, there’s a sudden explosion during The Trigger City Blues, a trick that works every time. Looking to Love Somebody actually remains as the ballad it starts out being, but The Sun and the Sea returns to dangerous excess, with an extended organ solo set amidst its swampy vocals. If You Love Her could almost be a Marc Almond or Scott Walker number, another slowie with an atmospheric piano spotlight.

The vocals throughout are the most frustrating element, often sounding too mannered, or too clichéd in their melodic patterns. They fall under the spell of Iggy Pop, but suffer from that lofty comparison once it’s set up. The songs don’t quite match up to the power of the instrumentation, and the earthy drive of the playing. There’s much substance with the employment of piano, organ, synthesiser, guitar and horn solos, but the actual song structures and vocal performances don’t share this same level of achievement.

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