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Adrian Borland - Harmony & Destuction review (RED SUN 17-02-2002)

date: Feb 17, 2002


(Red Sun Records)

Anyone who has been touched by Adrian Borland's music over the last twenty-five years will find it difficult to approach Harmony & Destruction without experiencing a whole range of mixed emotions. Uppermost amongst these may be the inevitable feeling of sadness at the knowledge that these are the very songs Adrian was working on at the time of his tragic death in April 1999, in addition it is hard not to feel a twinge of trepidation as to whether Harmony & Destruction will prove to be a worthwile addition to a much loved series of albums, but lastly there is still that sliver of excitement that a fan always feels before hearing the latest release from a favourite artist.

The poignant yet somehow defiantly named Harmony & Destruction (fittingly subtitled The Unfinished Journey) begins with the majestic "Solar", a gloriously melodic opener, and follows through with the stunning "Angel Sulk", dirty, 'fuzzed-up' Stooges style verses ("...Electronic eye on you...") giving way to classic Borland melodies. It is clear already that this is not Rain Machine part 2, these tracks are of course studio recordings with full bass, drums, keyboards and lots of wonderful Borland guitar work. Although unfinished, rather than sounding threadbare the songs instead buzz with energy and clearly show Adrians melodic instincts never failed him. The occasionally rough-cut nature of the 'guide' vocals simply adds to the emotionally charged atmosphere, to hear him sing, from time to time throwing in a spontaneous, "whoa" or an exclamatory "yeah!" is a bittersweet joy to behold, something that over-production could have smothered.

There are too many individual highlights to mention here, although the spine-tingling "Summer Wheels" is a delight, while "Song Damn Song" is almost too close to the bone with its sobering insight into the artist's relationship with his muse, "Trawling for truth's a high risk occupation, you can end up a wreck on prescribed medication." The final two songs, "Last Train Out Of Shatterville" and "Living on the Edge of God" are emotionally draining gems, the latter in particular packs an incredible emotional punch, in no small degree thanks to the burning intensity and ragged energy of Adrian's vocals. Harmony & Destruction would quite possibly have been Adrian's greatest solo album, that it reaches these heights even in unfinished form is a fitting testament to his great talent and the efforts of those who have worked with such care and sensitivity to bring us this wonderful record. Ultimately you are left with the feeling that all that needs changing in connection with this release would be to have Adrian back with us to savour the praise.

2002 - Simon Heavisides / RED SUN RECORDS

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