When Death In Vegas released their first album Dead Elvis back in 1997, most everybody that heard it wondered just what the heck was going on. One minute, the album was dubby beats and ragga-vocals while the next it went to ambient. Back and forth it went, hopping from genre to genre, all the while keeping sort of a spooky feel and confusing all those who bought it for the loud beats and grimy guitars on the first single "Dirt."
The group has returned, and not only have they managed to focus their sound a little more, but they also sound a little more like a traditional band, having enlisted the help of some great studio musicians, as well as tons of big names to do vocals. It's an interesting move by the group, and it's one that works for the most part, although it does bog down somewhat in places (kind of like their previous release).
Things start out with the track "Dirge," which is really nothing more than a 5 and a half minute crescendo. Starting out with nothing but the light strum of a guitar, it adds a different element every couple of measures (including the dreamy soft "la-la's" of vocalist Dot Allision) until it's reached a squealing, wigged-out wall of noise by the end. There's no huge payoff, but it's still a fairly interesting track. Working with Bobby Gillespie, the group kicks into "Soul Auctioneer" and it comes off pretty much like a Primal Scream track with less interesting lyrics.
After the darker "Death Threat" and the lighter "Flying," (they hold true to their names), the disc rolls into a fairly standard rock sounding number with Iggy Pop providing vocals on "Aisha." Instead of sounding spooky or going anywhere, though (like say, something off Nick Cave's Murder Ballads, it just sounds kind of hokey. "Aladdin's Story" is a nice mid-tempo jam sort of track with absolutely smooth vocals before the overlong and repetitive "Broken Little Sister." Fortunately, the album finishes on a good note with the tripped-out sounds of "Neptune City." The Contino Sessions is definitely a step in the right direction for the group in terms of continuity and development of their sound, but their are still a few hiccups that they need to work out. There are no slammers like "Dirt" on the release, but it's much less of a roller-coaster ride.