DJ duo head for greatness with help from their eclectic famous friends
While there’s no documented proof that one need pay homage to great music along the path to making great music, Death In Vegas are taking no chances. Their third album, ‘Scorpio Rising’, is, like its predecessors, cut from the very finest, most tasteful material. A little Fad Gadget here, a little Gene Clark there, some authentic Indian strings (Western strings lack reediness, darling), a touch of My Bloody Valentine… and so forth, until voila! We have ten separate shrines to greatness housed under the legend ‘Scorpio Rising’. DIV don’t so much wear their influences on their sleeves as sow themselves into them.
Such is the DJ’s imperative. Richard Fearless didn’t form Death In Vegas with Tim Holmes to jam in a studio. They were born out of DJ culture and they apply that mentality to making original music. They think, ‘Wouldn’t it be good to have a Plastikman record followed by a Weller or Byrds-type number?’ So they make a neo-Plastikman techno splurge, ‘Natja’, and follow it with Paul Weller singing (with brilliant, husky disdain) former Byrd Gene Clark’s garage adieu ‘So You Say You Lost Your Baby’. And, like the best DJs, they get away with this most diverse of sequencing.
It’s an organic kind of homebrew DJing. DIV would possibly protest that their artistic impulses and working practices are those of any ‘real’ band, but ‘Scorpio Rising”s sparkling title track tells another story. Frustrated, no doubt, as all fans of the man’s imperial growl are with Liam Gallagher’s somewhat one-dimensional recent material, DIV here scientifically seek to rehouse Britain’s premier rock voice in more suitably palatial surroundings. How to make the great man great once more? First give him some slow-burning post-Beatles psychedelic sounds and then feed him far-out, mystic love-lines to chew on. The science works well. It’s Liam’s best recording in years.
The duo have also lightened the mood since their last album ‘The Contino Sessions’, namely by employing several breathy women singers – Dot Allison, Nicola Kuperus of Adult. on the murderous electro of ‘Hands Around My Throat’, Hope Sandoval on a couple of country-ish moans – and legendary (it sez here) Indian violinist Dr Subramaniam to score the strings. Once more, the appliance of their science pays. It’s the pairing of Sandoval and the good doctor that lend the album’s its most poignant moment on the soaring final track, ‘Help Yourself’.
No influence spills into the next song and that makes for fairly rigidly eclectic listening, but it’s done so artfully that there’s never a sense of stylistic boxes simply being crossed. More than most albums, ‘Scorpio Rising’ is the sum of its parts. Happily, those sums addup to…