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Adrian Belew - Side Three CD (album) cover


Adrian Belew


Eclectic Prog

3.99 | 89 ratings

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4 stars Adrian Belew continued on his quartet of albums released between 2005-06 with 'Side Three' on which he continues to explore his eclectic and experimental side quite well. This is the Belew we all hoped would develop after years with King Crimson. While he took the sound and expanded on it, KC would choose a different path that Fripp said Belew would not be right for. So he started generating his own music by forming his own Power Trio, working with Nine Inch Nails, developing his FLUX apps, and so on. These 'Side' albums were the bridge to these new projects (along with the amazing 'e' album that would come later).

As on the other albums in the series, Belew provides most all of the instrumentation, but, as on 'Side One', he also utilizes many of his friends to help bring in more depth to the tracks. The album starts with 'Troubles', a strong, strutting track with a catchy hook bringing in the listener, and then an almost rap-like preaching spoken word section from 'The Prophet Omega'. Sounds weird, but it works, in a funny kind of way. This track not only shows Belew's creativity to make a catchy song, but also highlights his sense of humor. 'Incomplete Indifference' goes for the funky, guitar scratchy vibe while Belew does some spoken word 'poetry' himself, again another catchy strut-style rhythm brings the listener in. Belew later sings, and includes his low and heavy voice in a sing-song style that we have heard previously in King Crimson and Zappa tracks, again utilizing a playful feel to describe someone's woes with technology. Great stuff.

'Water Turns to Wine' brings in his fellow Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp playing a flute guitar. That most definitely has to be a Fripp invention. This one is more experimental, but still maintains some accessibility and is surprisingly smooth and mellow. It's a nice sound and even with the unique sounds here, it still is easy to digest even from the first listen, and, of course, Fripp amazes. 'Crunk' is a short track with a heavy beat and crazy Belew guitar antics. 'Drive' is a lovely, atmospheric and almost ambient track that is in a more experimental style, with even more guitar tricks. 'Cinemusic' is another short track that starts with a chord drone, then slips into music-box and noisy weirdness. Cool.

Now Belew brings back Les Claypool and Danny Carey (they were both guests on 'Side One') for the next two tracks. Starting with 'Whatever', the three musicians establish a funky, yet quirky groove. Belew does a sort of call and answer style vocal with one voice trades back and forth with layered voices, almost like a conversation of sorts while the crazy guitar/bass/drum trio continues to play noise funk behind it all. The trio continues on the next track with 'Men in Helicopters v4.0' which uses a moderate march rhythm accented by strings and Belew's singing. This one is totally unexpected considering the musicians involved, and it turns out to be a nice surprise.

'Beat Box Car' is a nod back to 'Side One's' 'Beat Box Guitar'. An automatic percussion and guitar loop provides the foundation while synths and Belew's guitar spread out a smorgasbord of sound to a catchy beat and a sudden appearance on the second half or Mel Collins playing a sax that matches the wild carefree attitude of the track. There is a short track called 'Truth Is' which features an acoustic sounding guitar that has a sort of 'Clavier' sound to it, some flute by Collins, and some deep lyrics. So much packed into a short track. Then along comes 'The Red Bull Rides a Boomerang Across the Blue Constellation', which is an interesting, experimental soundscape of beastly noises, African drums looping a rhythm and electronic and organic textures and noises. It is experimental, yet strangely engaging noise rock. The last track here is '&', again a nod back to 'Side One' as the first track there was 'Ampersand'. It takes the rock n roll riff from 'Ampersand' and twists it all around, to make it a new version, even including Belew's lyrics. It's an alternate version, but so different form the original that it almost makes it new. It makes a nice bookend track that surrounds the entire project nicely. Yes there is a 'Side Four', but it is a live album that takes tracks from this series of albums and also brings in some King Crimson tracks and older Belew tracks, all performed by 'Adrian Belew's Power Trio', the original one with the extremely talented Slick siblings. That album is also worth checking out.

So, 'Side Three' in my opinion, is the strongest of the series with a great variety of songs that somehow still come out more cohesive than ever. This time the album manages to make it to 40 minutes, which is another big plus, and the songs seem more complete and finished that ever, even the short tracks. Where 'Side One' was overall, a louder album heavy on guitar and KC styles, 'Side Two' showed the more electronic version of Belew as he messes around with newer sounds and 'Radiohead' style tracks, 'Side Three' on the other hand, brings it all together, mostly coming out less complex, but still eclectic, but more on the mellower side, I suppose. Don't let that scare you away though, this is still the strongest (an most creative) collection of the three. This series of albums is a definite must for those that want to hear Belew at his best, but also for those that love that era of King Crimson. All of the albums ended up with 4-star ratings, even though Side Three is the best of them. The main reason is because of them being so brief. Together, however, the series makes up a masterpiece and is one example where the whole is greater than the separate parts.

TCat | 4/5 |


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