'There's more going on in any five minutes here than in entire rackfuls of ambient, techno or drum 'n' bass albums'
Barry Adamson Oedipus Schmoedipus Mute CD STUMM 134
Friday 02 August 1996
Sexual confusion is Adamson's target here, observed with a slightly raised eyebrow and an occasional wry smile. The album opens with the lusty "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Pelvis", featuring a desperate Jarvis Cocker begging "Save me from my own hand" over a monstrous funk groove that somehow manages to combine gospel vocals, urgent strings, raging power-chords and limpid vibes into one coherent whole; it closes an hour later in Twin Peaks-y mood with Nick Cave breaking off a relationship with abrupt tenderness in "The Sweetest Embrace": "I just don't want you anymore / And that's the sweetest embrace of all".
In between are a variety of bold musical strategies, ranging from the slinky organ groove and Classics IV sample that comprise "Something Wicked this Way Comes", to the seven-minute tone-poem collage of "Dirty Barry", with its sonic scribbles and echoing trumpet lines. There's also a distinct loungeward lean to several pieces, Adamson languishing among the flutes, vibes and brushed snares of "In a Moment of Clarity", and adding a new rhythmic wrinkle to his cover of Miles Davis's "Miles". Throughout, echoes of soundtrack composers such as Barry, Herrmann and Morricone sprout from Adamson's tunes, adding dramatic whiskers to his arrangements. And while he's far too facetious and frivolous actually to elucidate any of the thorny psycho-sexual issues involved, that same sense of fun and daring ensures that there's more going on, musically, in any five minutes of Oedipus Schmoedipus than in entire rackfuls of ambient, techno or drum 'n' bass albums.
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