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No-Man - Wild Opera CD (album) cover

WILD OPERA

No-Man

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.61 | 121 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wild Opera is modern prog and therefore will obviously not appeal to many PA purists as this is way raunchier electronica than many would accept and hence,, far from the usual prog suspects: Sympho, Retro, Rio, Neo and Proto (sounds like the Marx Brothers!, where's Chico, Harpo and Groucho when you need them?). This is progressive Dance/Electronica with an edge, insanily superb production, oblique rhythms, odd effects, quirky patterns and outright disturbing themes. The opener "Radiant City" is a fine example of psychotic drum beats, probing bass synth, zippy guitar thrashes, all sounding very cosmo-urbane and contemporary, laced with a Mel Collins sax eruption set to disturb loudly and jostle with creepy lunacy. "Pretty Genius" is a smooth groove, equal doses of chilly electro-jazz, very soundtrackish strings a la Hooverphonic/Portishead, some fluttering flute wisps and those slippery preoccupied vocals by Mr.Bowness. I love this kind of orchestrated cool, so I am in all the way! "Infant Phenomenon" is a paranoid jumble, a bruising affair led by a saturated fuzzed out bass, with weird and unblessed exhortations ("Sickening Sensation of Love") that reveal a deep inner turmoil. In order to confirm the latent schizophrenia, the somberly magnificent "Sinister Jazz" affords some spoken word spectral oddity verging on intense evil ("and never going home"), both threatening and glitzy, hence the propos title. Again, love the bizarre! And should you want to further stretch the envelope of insanity, the curiously perverted "Housewives Hooked on Heroin" strays into the abysses of despair and agony, a drugged out lament about apathy and deranged dysfunction, ("His paradise became his living Hell"), a raging guitar mid section that illustrates the disdain of a troubled soul. Weirder yet is the following "Libertine Libretto" an experimental, no wait, just a mental whack out, that unifies dissonance, echoed vocal passages, a loopy collage of disjointed doodling piano, buzz-fuzz guitar and effects into this massive cauldron of madness. The contrasting "Taste my Dream" is a celestial ballade that flows groovily along for over 6 minutes, unyielding in structure and adamant in melody, with some gorgeous pools of mood music, exceptionally expressive vocals from Tim Bowness and overall top-notch instrumental expertise. "Dry Cleaning Ray" is the proverbial pop song here, a scintillating piece of music that is both catchy and accessible (a bit like the future Blackfield), with a repeated organ roll that sears the brain. Hard to resist this again, it's Wilson at his best, with that ability to squeeze out a huge chorus from literally nothing! "Sheeploop" grooves unsettlingly, sort of a cold -jazz electronic ode to runaway from a vodka martini overload, stressed by the urban merry-go-round, ("this loving demands no part of me") and passes out with bubbling synths. "My Rival Trevor" is a funny tirade, a quite amusing synth-pop ride with muffled voices, hysterical axe drippings, hinting at "Clever Trevor", the Ian Dury hit from the 80s. The huge drum programming sound works well in distilling the cold harsh reality of modern electronic music. "Time Travel in Texas" continues the schizo theme, ("See Where it Gets us" rhymes with the title, cute!), essentially a minimalist effect-laden brew that pursues the inner scorn and crushes it further. Bizarre again, but a good bizarre! "My Revenge on Seattle" has some extraordinary vocals from Tim, soaring like some mythical bird over vast horizons of sultry synthesized winds, puffy clouds of piano and placid beats, and the immortal last words "maybe there is more to life than writing songs , maybe not..."! A hidden track ends this genial recording , the title track "Wild Opera" with a sustained piano note gurgling with synthesized wasps, thriving bass blasting away, a shard of dissonance cutting nicely through the sinews. Definitely a worthy follow up to Flowermouth and a strong recommendation for the sonically adventurous. I love wild opera anyway .4.5 untamed Verdis
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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