Adrian Belew - Side One
Progressive Rock
9 songs (33'06)
Release year: 2005
Adrian Belew, Sanctuary
Reviewed by Marty
For guitarists and especially progressive rock fans, Adrian Belew needs little introduction. Having worked with the likes of Frank Zappa, David Bowie, The Talking Heads, Nine Inch Nails as well as being a member of the new "renaissance" version of King Crimson that re-emerged in the 80's, he's a wildly prolific musician who has also released many solo albums. Much of his time has been taken up by both King Crimson and his other project entitled The Bears with his solo material having to be recorded during the brief breaks between his other band commitments. His latest solo album, Side One, is the first of a three part project with parts two and three being aptly named Side Two and Side Three. Both of those albums will emerge later this year or early next year. Largely recorded and performed entirely by himself except for a couple of tracks, this album contains all the avante garde weirdness and quirky guitar playing that he's so noted for. Wanting to record for the first time as a classic power trio format, Adrian enlisted the services of Primus bassist Les Claypool and Tool drummer Danny Carey for a few tracks on this album.

The first three tracks (Ampersand, Writing On The Wall and Matchless Men) all feature Les Claypool and Danny Carey with Ampersand featuring Adrian's trebly guitar style over an abstract 60's psychedelic feel. Writing On The Wall is more of the classic King Crimson sound with the ultra fuzzy guitar tone and Adrian uses a "distant" vocal style to chant the only lyrics to the song "I see the writing on the wall". Both Ampersand and Writing On The Wall benefit from the pounding bass of Les Claypool and Danny Carey's intricate drumming style. The experimentation with the "power trio" format is a huge success with both of these tracks. Matchless Men again uses a 60's psychedelic vibe but with more of an eerie tone accentuated by Danny Carey's bongo stylings. The rest of the tracks feature all instrumentation by Adrian himself except for a couple of guest appearances and range from chaotic King Crimson styles with Madness to a Police influenced Walk Around The World. Adrian explores more ambient tones with the tracks Beat Box Guitar and Under The Radar and he even revisits the elephants (in reference to Elephant Talk) with a track simply entitled Elephants. It's a weird sort of track with spoken word vocals. The album ends with the track Pause which is essentially a minute and a half of sound effects.

Side Two, the next album in this series promises to be more electronic in nature with Adrian experimenting with drum loops and synthesizer pads. Side Three, the third part, promises to be more eclectic and will feature reappearances by both Les Claypool and Danny Carey. Adrian plans on putting together a power trio format to take out on the road to perform some of this material but also plans on performing some of his material with The Bears as well as King Crimson material. He's been stated as saying that he's very interested in hearing what some of the King Crimson material will sound like in a stripped down form. He also plans on using relatively unknown players with the hope of giving them a break, much like the break he got years back when Frank Zappa brought him into his band. With any Adrian Belew album, you know that's it's going to combine weirdness with amazing and technical guitar playing. A few of the tracks take on a "free form" style and just really don't go anywhere but ask any fan of his and they will say that it's just his style. Being a very short album (33 minutes), I wonder what parts two and three will bring (Side Two and Side Three). I get the feeling that in the end, it all could've been condensed into a 2 CD set that would be a better buy for his fans. For fans of Adrian's work, this will surely be the fix you've been waiting for.

Killing Songs :
Ampersand, Writing On The Wall and Beat Box Guitar
Marty quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Adrian Belew that we have reviewed:
Adrian Belew - Side Three reviewed by Marty and quoted 75 / 100
Adrian Belew - Side Two reviewed by Marty and quoted 55 / 100
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