Barry Adamson has been involved with interesting and influencial music for a good portion of his life. One of his first gigs was playing bass for the post punk band Magazine from 1978 to the early 80s, then he went on to become one of the founding members of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds. In addition to his work in Cave's band, he released his own debut album in 1988 (The Man With The Golden Arm) and subsequently released 8 more albums, including a "best of" collection. He's even found the time to write work for a couple different film soundtracks, including David Lynch's Lost Highway.
Although I haven't heard his entire output as a solo artist, The King Of Nothing Hill is definitely his most cohesive and well-orchestrated one yet. He's always had a distinct cinematic feel to all his work, but he pretty much flings off any conflicting ideas with this release and has seemingly written a soundtrack for a movie that is basically waiting to be written. Based on the sounds of the release, the output could be a mashup that contains equal elements of Shaft, Twin Peaks, and Heat. Adamson isn't above mixing wacca-chika guitars with soaring strings and following it up with haunting instrumentals, and unlike some odd hybrids on former releases, this disc pulls most of it off quite well.
One thing that's hard to argue is enthusiasm, and it's easy to hear that Adamson still has loads of it after hearing the opening track "Cinematic Soul." Rolling along with a catchy as hell guitar hook mixed with slick organs and string arrangements, he belts out vocals that play on nearly every movie cliche' while allowing every member of his band to get in a solo on their instrument and even lets his son join in for the singalong ending (stating in defense, 'what's a song/if you can't sing along?'). It sounds a bit silly, but like some of his best work, the track is infectious enough that you simply want to join in his world of hero theme music and play spy for awhile.
"Whispering Streets" follows it up with another solid track of lush rock with a good dose of funk as Adamson contemplates the words, 'I don't even know how the gun got in my hand/five bullets, five names, and a contract worth five hundred grand.' On "Black Amour," the string flourishes go wild over the top of another moody, swooping number and he pulls off his best Barry White (and if there's anyone in current music cool enough to pull it off, he does) mixing spoken word and sung vocals.
While there are a couple moments that don't work quite as well ("Twisted Smile" oozes plenty of mood, but just sort of meanders along for too long), the majority of the disc has so many layers that it will keep you enthralled for plenty of listens. The ten-minute "Le Matin Des Noire" pulls off a dark lounge vibe while "The Crime Scene" throws in a nice breakbeat and some eerie strings for a track that could play in just about any rain-soaked getaway scene and do it justice. As mentioned above, one of the best things about the album is that it's just plain fun. It's a series of tracks created about imaginary characters as they go about their somewhat dubious deeds in places that most people won't visit in real life, but the music evokes a mood that makes it damn fun to pretend.