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Death in Vegas - Scorpio Rising


Review: Jack Foley

DEATH In Vegas positively exploded into the limelight following the release of The Contino Sessions in 1999 - an album which was rightly hailed as one of the best of its year, and which spawned the Iggy Pop collaboration, Aisha, plus Dirge (which became another advertising signature tune).

It is little wonder, therefore, to find that expectation was high when Scorpio Rising was released earlier this year, as Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes had a lot to live up to.

While not as instantly accessible as the Sessions, Scorpio Rising delivers its sting with gentle aplomb, mixing a wide variety of styles and managing to sound fresh, cutting edge, yet heavily-influenced all at the same time.

Don't believe me? Then try comparing track one, Leather, and its follow-on, Girls, to anything currently doing the rounds, with its shades of electro-rock, spliced with happy harmonies and well-realised synthesizers. It is effortlessly uplifting, totally breezy and an ideal way of easing you into what follows.

The Eighties throwback, Hands Around My Throat, is a sleazy, far darker third track, which, sadly, failed to perform as a single, but which taps into the style of songwriting the duo employed for Aisha, without the aggression. It is an overlooked gem.

Given that high-profile collaborations were such a strong feature of The Contino Sessions, it is little wonder to find plenty here. Two of the best come in the form of Susan Dillane and Liam Gallagher, who offer an interesting contrast.

First up is the quiver-inducing sensuality of Dillane on 23 Lies, a tremendously dreamy affair which evokes memories of Massive Attack's Teardrop for sheer beauty and scope. It is a hypnotic record which melts effortlessly into the harsher, more in 'yer face sound of title track, Scorpio Rising, and the raw style of Oasis frontman, Gallagher (complete with original teeth!).

Scorpio Rising is the track which might help to ensure this album gains the mainstream recognition it deserves.

It is the most accessible, most commercial track on the CD, but it is a tremendously catchy, psychedelic throwback to the Sixties/Seventies-inspired virtues which made early Oasis so exciting. Liam's vocals are sublime, perfectly pitched against the lazy instrumentals, which should help to ensure that chart success is all but guaranteed.

Elsewhere, Fearless and Holmes have drawn on influences borne out of their trip to India and, bizarrely, stemming from their 'visions' of George Harrison (there is certainly a Beatles' vibe, throughout).

Their collaboration with Modfather, Paul Weller, for example, on So You Say You Lost Your Baby, screams psychedelia, and is a ridiculously chirpy, feelgood song that even makes Weller's dull vocals sound lively. The background guitar rifts wouldn't sound out of place in an Austin Powers movie!

Dot Allison crops up on the haunting Diving Horses, while Hope Sandoval helps to bring the album to a suitably mesmerising close, with the slow-building Help Yourself, a sprawling, epic record which also weaves in the hypnotic strings of Indian impresario, Dr L Subranamian.

Not only does this conjure memories of DIV's own Neptune City (taken from Contino), but it also tips its hat to the likes of the Chemical Brothers' Private Psychedelic Reel, without ever feeling like a rip-off. It is richly rewarding record which is the album's crowning glory.

Indeed, things only fall flat during the curiously wasteful Natja, which goes nowhere very slowly, but this is but a blip on an otherwise hugely impressive third outing. Death In Vegas have excelled once again.

Track listing:

1. Leather
2. Girls
3. Hands Around My Throat
4. 23 Lies
5. Scorpio Rising
6. Killing Smile
7. Natja
8. So You Say You Lost Your Baby
9. Diving Horses
10. Help Yourself


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