Death In Vegas - Scorpio Rising
Scorpio Rising saw Death In Vegas continue with the guest vocalist-heavy template of The Contino Sessions, while lightening the tone considerably, and moving yet further away from the ‘dance act’ status that established them on Dead Elvis.
That’s not to say Scorpio Rising is totally free of sinister moments (which is arguably what DIV do best). Hands Around My Throat is a tribute to sexual asphyxiation, with cold vocals courtesy of Adult’s Nicola Kuperus, and whipping noises alongside the Joy Division-style guitar. Natja is bleak, minimalist electronica with a beat that doesn’t kick in until the end, and sounds like a path spiralling downwards.
The rest of the album is much less claustrophobic. In fact, Leather and So You Say You Lost Your Baby have a whiff of the open air about them. The former, an amphetamine-fuelled instrumental, is surely an invitation to hit the road, making it seem appropriate the record should have been named after an obscure 60s biker film.
Elsewhere, the gorgeous Killing Smile has banjos and Indian strings as fresh as a spring breeze. It’s the first of two tracks to feature Hope Sandoval’s distinctive vocals. On 23 Lies and Girls (reminiscent of Spiritualized), Susan Dillane manages the impossible job of sounding just as blissed-out and lovely.
The big collaborations are somewhat less successful. If the title song is the best thing Liam Gallagher has done since Definitely Maybe, that says more about the ever-slipping quality of his band's work than it does Death In Vegas. As a DIV track, it’s solid and little more; you hope the synergy will be a bit more exciting when the duo produce Oasis' forthcoming album.
It is, however, better than the Paul Weller sung So You Say You’ve Lost Your Baby, which comes awfully close to sounding like a bad 60s parody when the organ kicks in. Only Living Horses, a shapeless ethereal dirge with Dot Allison on vocals, is worse. Between them, they threaten to sink the latter half of the album, before Help Yourself comes to the rescue. This ten minute psychedelic slow-burner is the other Hope Sandoval collaboration, and builds to a big orchestral climax.
Scorpio Rising is more varied than its predecessor and a good companion piece; one dark, one light, both rich in imagination and cool influence.