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No-Man - Wild Opera CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.61 | 121 ratings

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3 stars Wild Opera is No-man's third official full length. It marks a great musical development for No-Man as it mixes the best of their early techno-pop debut with the more spacey Flowermouth. The album is very eclectic and absorbs all kind of influences from other developments that were going on in the 90's sub-cultures and underground.

Radiant City is a great opener, with a beat reminiscent of Industrial pop of the end of the 80's. The funky-techno beat and droning vocals remind me of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, but most people will be more familiar with Nine Inch Nails' debut.

Pretty Genius is another fabulous track, pure trip-hop with some interesting flute samples and spacey sounds. It never reaches the lonely heights of Massive Attack and Portishead that it so clearly borrows from, but it's good nevertheless.

Industrial jungle beats follow on Infant Phenomenon. It has a decent groove but it lacks a memorable hook to make it really work.

Sinister Jazz explains itself. It starts from the trip-hop of Portishead but it amplifies the sonic experimentation and alienated feel of that music. This track is very minimal, mainly repeating the basic theme for 5 minutes but what an atmosphere. A real gem. Fans of Cinematic Orchestra or Thievery Corporation should sure check this out.

Housewives Hooked on Heroin makes place for a more standard but very catchy rock song with a kind of psychedelic vibe. Wilson does some backing vocals here and provides for a beautiful harmonious chorus. This chorus is so catchy that it almost sounds like the kind pop classic that everyone knows. But be not fooled. The spacey arrangement and unsettling subject material might put off mainstream audiences.

Libertine Libretto is an experimental beat, distorted vocals, dissonant samples, eerie repeated guitar loops. Just like Infant Phenomenon, this songs misses that sparkle needed to make it memorable.

Taste My Dream goes in entirely different directions again. A crooner ballad on a discreet trip-hop beat. It's a beautiful fragile song that couldn't be sung by anybody else then Tim Bowness. He's strong throughout the album, but his worried tone really does magic here. It brings the listener in the mood for a more of the same dreamy melancholy, but psychedelic pop is what we get.

But whatever style Wilson and Bowness try their hand on it all works here. Dry Cleaning Ray is fantastic. A psychedelic organ twirls loops around your ears and is simply impossible to resist. Almost offhandedly they charm you into an even deeper spell with the dreamy chorus that follow. Genius really.

Sheeploop gets the best out of Portishead's loungey soft jazz. It's a very minimalist track with a repeated beat and looping jazz samples. The instrumentation is very sparse, but again Wilson shows his unmatched talent for laying down very subtle atmospheres. Another very strong track that won't disappoint trip-hop fans.

At that point the album seems to run out of fuel. My Rival Trevor and Time Travel come off as less inspired exercises in 80's pop, similar to what featured on the debut. The solution is to skip right to the sugar-sweet sadness of My Revenge On Seatle, which could have been a fitting closer immediately after Sheeploop.

Despite the unfortunate slip at the end, I do enjoy the continuous 37 minute minutes of excellence on this dark art rock trip. 3.5 stars

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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