Adrian Belew

Side One (Sanctuary)

Still mucking about with guitar-based animal sounds, Lone Rhino preservationist Adrian Belew casts a wide net over the other endangered species in the playful safari of his mind. But on this brief jungle outing, the guitar force that added so much punch to Talking Heads' Remain in Light measures the hunt in thirds, boiling most everything down to the parameters of a not-so-simple power trio. Les Claypool (Primus) and Danny Carey (Tool) elevate an otherwise rote exercise in chops into the first compelling installment of a bona fide trilogy. Have no fear: The pasty man in a pith helmet still astounds as a scale-crazy freak of nature -- one who's proven his versatility by collaborating with everyone from Frank Zappa to William Shatner. Thankfully, though, Belew has the good sense this time to compensate for his own underwhelming vocals by not singing too much. Alas, alliteration still reigns supreme: "Elephants are enslaved ensnared...even eaten" (from "Elephant"). Mesmerizing tracks such as "Beat Box Guitar" and "Madness" indicate a loopier direction that Belew intends to pursue on Side Two.
 
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