Saturday, July 3, 2010

Adrian Borland: Cinematic (1996)

(As published in the Illinois Entertainer ... )

Adrian Borland

Adrian Borland is that rarest of twofers: an English musician who's unknown in the States but shouldn’t be and a two-decade, four-band, indie-label apprentice who's currently recording the freshest music of his career. The brightest of Cinematic's fifteen tracks (too many, of course, but what else is new?) is "Bright White Light." "The sun doesn't shine here,” sings Borland. “It just signifies the day. / We take this life for granted, / and we throw this world away." Almost worthy of Emily Dickinson, no? (The chorus--"At the heart of destruction lies the soul of discontent, / and a bright, white light will blind you in the end"--is certainly worthy of Italo Svevo.) “Night Cascade” follows the same formula, to wit: meter, metaphysics, and metaphor peacefully coexisting within hooks so simple anyone can think them up.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the other thirteen songs. Despite Borland's uniformly unpretentious singing and the occasional glint of another prime hook or insight (the title track, "Long Dark Train," and "I Can't Stop The World" have a few of both), Borland never again strikes the perfect balance of flesh and spirit that a mature audience expects from those who would attempt such a balance in the first place. All of which means that Borland spends a lot of Cinematic sounding as half-lost-half-found as the rest of us and the other third sounding as if the condition is both no big deal and a really big deal indeed.

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