It’s been four years since his last album As Above So Below, but Barry Adamson still asserts his “Cinematic Soul” — the first song on his latest effort “The King of Nothing Hill”. Consider his steady work on soundtracks such as David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1996). And never mind the six other solo albums he’s released since 1989 that also embody the soundtracks feel – quite possibly the soundtrack to Adamson’s movie life. Of course, “The King of Nothing Hill” isn’t a departure from the sound that has distinguished his career: disco, rock, pop, funk, and jazz – all of these influences are there, and sucks us into its dark cabaret.
Adamson’s sinfully smooth voice culls the deepest regions of urban night, dredges up its dirtiest secrets, and whispers them into your ear making their dangers and delights nearly irresistible. It’s a seductive, late-night schizophrenic fever. And it feels damn good. Three of the 10 brand new tracks are instrumentals (with some voice-overs) evoking city chaos, lurking menace, and evil fun. The pervading sense of stalking doom, of something waiting in the shadows to twist your arm (or simply break it) is injected with a sense of humor. The songs mock themselves by playing with stereotypes and possibilities, especially in “Black Amour”.
Song by song, “Nothing Hill” creates a dark ironic world with misguided intentions. By the end, you feel there is no “King of Nothing Hill”, There is just the hill, singular and strong, standing its ground. This is the vast landscape Adamson sculpts, a landscape with a void aching to be filled. You can really feel the helplessness in songs like “Whispering Secrets” and “That Fool was Me” And there are also songs that have the power to disturb with their twisted, looming instrumentals like “When Darkness Calls” and “Twisted Smile”. Go ahead, turn off the lights, lay down on the floor, and soak in The King of Nothing Hill “‘Cause when the lights go down, and the sound begins to monkey around,the screen lights up your mindaas the characters come alive.”