Top of the Flops
No British Isles band this decade has been more experimental, often to
its own detriment, than Scotland's Primal Scream. Slithering from
ambient to '70s boogie, they primarily served as a case study in the
fine line between eclectic and directionless. But their intoxicating
theme instrumental to last year's Trainspotting-a groggy meeting place
of mood music and rock grit-felt like a fresh start. And Vanishing
Point, their fifth album, more than follows up on that song's promise.
Imagine a bunch of woozy Scots jamming in a Middle Eastern techno club
in bustling Piccadlily Circus, and you have a rough idea of the
swirling, hypnotic acid-trip electronica of Vanishing Point. From the
sublimely elegant horns on "Get Duffy" to the punky rip through
"Medication," the album is incessantly inventive but always grounded.
"Trainspotting," which is reprised here, is just one of many numbers
(the B-movie sleaze of "If They Move, Kill 'Em" is another) that treat
instrumentals not as filler but as edgy mood pieces. The album is a kick
especially on headphones, where the speaker-to-speaker shifts, tablas,
organs, computer squeals, subway-rumbling noises, and other sonic window
dressing can be fully enjoyed. Singer Bobby Gillespie's blissed-out
lyrics-like "Star," his ode to fallen civil rights leaders-are a bit
hippie-dippie. But words aren't Vanishing's point. Forget electronica;
we may need a whole new term for this record. Exotica, anyone?
Vanishing Point: A
Originally Appeared in Entertainment Weekly #387, July 11, 1997