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Adrian Belew - Side Three CD (album) cover

SIDE THREE

Adrian Belew

 

Eclectic Prog

3.98 | 64 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Throughout the past year, Adrian Belew has been on a mission to release a three part album journey simply titled Side One, which was released in January of 2005, Side Two, released in July of 2005, and finally it comes to a stunning conclusion with Side Three, which was released commercially today. Along the way, Adrian has gone through many different styles of music, ranging from King Crimson-esque dissonant compositions to more laid back groove songs, from electronic music to circus music, one thing is certain, this man has an eclectic style of music. On this album, he comes full circle with his ideas and knocks one out of the park. Once again, Belew brings in an array of guest musicians, ranging from Danny Carey of Tool fame and Les Claypool of Primus fame, and on this album all-star musicians Robert Fripp and Mel Collins (both of King Crimson fame). Adrian himself takes care of all the instruments on this album, save for a few moments where the guest musicians get their turn in the spotlight.

The album begins with Troubles, the grooving bass line augmented with some superb dialogue from The Prophet Omega and a great guitar theme from Belew. A great way to start off the album, with some very strong musicianship from Belew. Incompetence Difference has some nice chordal phrases from Belew, and his spoken lyrics (which come off the tongue quite well), and he brings back the voice distorter that he used back on ProzaKc Blues (The ConstrucKtion of Light). His wife, Martha, offers a telephone message in the vein of those automated messages and that ends the song quite well. Turning Water to Wine is the sole composition on the album to feature Adrian's longtime friend and colleague Robert Fripp on guitar, but his contributions on the album are nonetheless stunning. His "flute guitar" fills in between the verses are quite stunning and Adrian's vocal and guitar work on this song are also quite breathtaking. The song also has the feeling of Side Two (the electronic percussion work makes it stand out). Crunk is a minute of guitar insanity, with Adrian going off on a tangent of a solo, leaving no prisoners and absolutely creating a sonic assault on the listener, absolutely stunning work.

Drive begins with the starting of a car engine, and the acceleration of said car. The tabla, the grooving bassline, the ethereal guitar work, it all works so perfectly, with Belew's gentle vocals and distorted dialogue. That King Crimson feeling of dissonance also returns with this song, and it works wonderfully when put together with the other elements in the song. Cinemusic is an anxious, nervous, and mysterious piece of music, with an orchestral feeling intro, but suddenly it becomes a nightmarish track of haunting bells and various sound effects. It has that feeling of Happiness back on Side Two. Whatever is the first track on the album to feature Danny Carey and Les Claypool as the rhythm unit, and they drive this one home with a phenomenal bass/drum groove over Belew's groovy guitar work. Belew's lead work on this song is phenomenal, taking his quirkiness to the max, with double tracked leads and some great vocal work from Belew. Men in Helicopters v4.0 takes cues from Matchless Man off of Side One, and tones down the action from the group. This song has a majestic, orchestral feel to it, with some great snare work from Carey and double bass work from Claypool. The backing "orchestra" as it were is stunning and it takes the variety of the album into an entirely new direction.

Beat Box Car brings back the main theme from Beat Box Guitar from Side One (which landed Belew a Grammy Nomination), but this time things get a lot more quirky. This is obtained mainly through the great saxophone work from Mel Collins (ex-King Crimson), which takes the listener by surprise. But that isn't the only noteworthy thing about this track, Belew's guitar work is phenomenal and he adds a new layer of ingenuity to the track that was released last year. Truth Is begins with some nice guitar work from Belew, a great acoustic breakdown. It is similar to the Inner Garden songs on Thrak, simply because it has just vocal and guitar. But that's the beginning. After the first verse, some nice flute from Mel Collins swirls wonderfully with Belew's acoustic breakdowns. The Red Bell Rides a Boomerang Across the Blue Constellation has a similar feeling to that of Nuages (Which Passes Like Clouds) off of Three of a Perfect Pair, it has this abstract/ethereal feeling to it augmented with great sound effects, and a bass line that sort of reminds me of a part in Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds album. Abstract bits of vocal act as an intro to a section that has percussion similar to that of Side Two. Themes from songs all over Side One and Two recur in this track, such as the guitar theme to Elephants from Side One, and the main theme from Happiness on Side Two. & ends the album, it essentially is a reworking of Ampersand (which opened Side One). The lyrics on this track are superb, and Belew gives it a completely different feeling (mainly because he plays all the instruments on this one, as opposed to Belew and Carey on Side One). And soon enough, the Ampersand theme ends and the tribal percussion at the end give us a great send off to what is a masterpiece.

So in the end, this is Belew's masterpiece. Nothing I've heard from the man can surpass this album, it's a great ride from start to finish and I recommend anyone who even remotely knows of this man (or is a fan of Les Claypool or Danny Carey) get this album immediately. From the stunning artwork (by Belew himself) to the lyrics and creativity put forth, this album is nothing short of genious. It is the best album I've heard in 2006 so far, and it's going to be hard to top it. I give it my highest recommendation. 5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 5/5 |

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