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Adrian Belew - Side Two CD (album) cover

SIDE TWO

Adrian Belew

 

Eclectic Prog

3.50 | 46 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars "Side Two" of Adrian Belew's series of albums after his last stint with King Crimson sees Belew handling everything on his own. All instruments and vocals are performed by him alone. Also, where "Side One" concentrated more on the raw energy of actual instruments and very little electronic enhancement, "Side Two" sees more use of electronic use, though there is still a generous helping of Belew's tasty guitar antics. The lyrics are not as extensive as on the previous album either, the words are fewer and written more in a "Haiku" style.

"Dead Dog on Asphalt" starts it off, and it also reflects the artwork on the cover which was painted by Belew from inspiration he had after accidentally hitting a dog while driving his truck. The sound is less chaotic than the first album, but no less experimental and not anymore accessible. The tone is a bit frosty, still sounding much like the work he did with King Crimson, and even, at times, sounds a bit like Radiohead. The first track has some great guitar work pared with keys and electronics, but "I Wish I Knew" is much darker (strangely enough) and heavier on the use of loops and etc. "Face to Face" once again pushes the tempo up, but staying with a more automatic tempo, more straightforward than on the previous album, this track could have almost got away with being radio friendly, but it's still catchy and interesting, plus, never fear, Belew's guitar work is still here.

As on the previous album, the tracks are not very long, and even though there are 10 tracks this time, the overall timing is the same. "Asleep" takes the prize for being the longest track, but stays safely within the 5 minute boundary. This track is based around a sneaky, repeating bass line, but is surrounded by Belew's unique phrasing on his guitar, adding a bit of glitchy-ness to the sound his "bow-like" playing. The last half of this track slips into a bit of experimentalism, losing the beat in the middle for a while as there is some free-form atmospherics, but then later returning to the repeating riff and vocals, and this time what sounds like some violin. "Sex Nerve" goes for a smoother sound with more repeated electronic effects, but still leaving time for freedom on the guitar, and somewhat sultry singing and lyrics. "Then What" goes full-on "Kid A" mode with crazy electronics and tortured guitar. Being a Radiohead fan, I mean this as a complete compliment. It doesn't sound so much like he is trying to copy their sound, it sounds like he helped them invent it.

"Quicksand" sounds similar somewhat to King Crimson's "Man with an Open Heart", but with a bit more of the electronics added in among swashes of guitar. "I Know Now" is a short, somewhat harsh sounding guitar free-for-all played over programmed percussion. "Happiness" is another short track that sounds like bright happy instruments that have been warped by an evil entity with dissonant music box sounds and such. The album ends with "Sunlight" with more Radiohead style percussion and loops overlayed with a more complex improvisation, but light and airy sounding. Vocals start after a minute.

This album is a bit more cohesive then "Side One" that was pretty strong up until the last few tracks and then lost focus. It isn't as loud and chaotic as the first one, and that might disappoint some people, but it is still pretty good, and it stays more even throughout. However, its main fault is the same as "Side One", its too short. As with that album, I also say with this one, the two should have been put together into one album, and then it would have been worth a 5 star rating. Alone, however, also like its predecessor, it is 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |

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