Three years after The Contino Sessions heralded a new, more assured Death In Vegas, Scorpio Rising finds Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes treading water, gradually moving away from their former malevolent world view, but with no clear idea of which direction to pursue. Their music, notwithstanding a few subtle alterations, still follows much the same post-Velvets course as its predecessor: methodical, repetitive beats in the Public Image Ltd manner, hauling along wheezy synth lines, grimly scrubbed guitar riffs and occasionally the exotic violin figures of Indian virtuoso Dr Subramanian, this LP's most notable innovation. The track titles promise illicit thrills, but rarely deliver on that promise: "Hands Around My Throat" features Adult's vocal over a simple modulating bass groove washed with fuzz guitar; "Killing Smile" has Hope Sandoval's vocal fenced in by an Indo-Appalachian blend of plaintive banjo, mandolin and Dr S's violin; and the title track is a dreary trudge of swirly backwards guitars, with Liam Gallagher hopelessly miscast as psychedelic crooner groaning about "the psychic equalizer in your head". The choice of singers such as Sandoval, Dot Allison and Woodbine's Susan Dillane leaves the songs struggling to sustain an assertive profile, even when extended to 10 minutes, as on the closer "Help Yourself"; indeed, when the strongest character on the album is Paul Weller, singing an old song by former Byrd Gene Clark, "So You Say You Lost Your Baby", one can reasonably assert that it's more the case that DIV have lost their way. What happened?
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