THE KING OF NOTTING HILL
ALBUM MUTE, PLAYGROUND RELEASE:
SEPTEMBER 2, 2002 REVIEW: SEPTEMBER 4, 2002
Adamsons last proper album, 1998s As Above, So Below
came as quite a surprise. His earlier solo works had been slightly surreal,
mainly instrumental imaginary soundtracks, taking their cues from film
noir, Henry Mancini, blaxploitation and the projector running in the back
of Adamsons head.
But on As Above, So Below, Adamson leapt in as the star of
the film. He suddenly emerged as a full-fledged crooner, the music a meeting
between programmed soundscapes, big band jazz, orchestral arrangements,
soul and funk. Kind of like a smoother Jim G Thirlwell without the mental
disorders, if you like. I still consider it to be one of the ten best
albums of the last five years.
So, having eagerly waited four years for a follow-up, its probably
easy to get a bit disappointed. As Ive hoped, The King of
Notting Hill pretty much continues where the last album left off,
but theres something wrong. Tracks like Cinematic Soul
and When Darkness Calls work well enough as deftly programmed
funk pastiches. And Whispering Streets sees Adamson running
around the streets of Notting Hill pretending to be Shaft. All very well,
if not at the same heights as before.
But Ive got two main problems with this album. The first being the
single Black Amour, which is more Barry White than Barry Adamson.
The loverman stick has been done to death, and its been done better.
The second, and worse, is the lack of coherence. The vocal tracks get
interrupted by long, hazy instrumental pieces that would probably have
sat well on an album like Oedipus Schmoedipus, but totally
ruins the flow here. Somewhere halfway through, I just tend to lose the
will to keep listening. Despite brave attempts to bring the album back
to silky, slick life Im still stuck with the impression that this
could have turned out so much better.
Having said that, this is an album thats both original and rather
good, it just falls flat compared to Adamsons earlier achievements.
If youre looking for some suave, tongue-in-cheek soul music, The
King of Notting Hill wont let you down. But if youre
after some mind-bending cinematic thrills and chills, I suggest you try
and hunt down the recent Steroid Maximus album Ectopia instead.