Barry Adamson – Whispering Streets (Mute Records single, 2002)

Barry Adamson 'Whispering Streets' artwork

mute records | mute283 | 04/11/2002

Oddly enough, this was the first thing I ever bought from eBay. What’s more, just like I always used to at record fairs, I paid well over the odds. Still, despite feeling out of pocket, I have to say it was well worth it.

Isolated from their position within an album, Barry Adamson‘s early singles felt a bit lost. Not so with this track, which works well on its own despite being an integral part of The King Of Nothing Hill‘s narrative. It’s sleazy, funky in a maudlin seventies soundtrack stylee, features a stunning Cypress Hill sample and guitars which could have been culled from Portishead’s Dummy. Here Adamson is a unwilling assassin driven to kill by love, deploying some decent word-play on the chorus – ‘five bullets, five names / and a contract worth five hundred grand‘. With some soaring strings and chilling organ lines from Adamson collaborator stalwart Nick Plytas, this is among Adamson’s most atmospheric work, while his vocal was his most assured to date.

Mixes come from AIM, who strip out some of the soul and atmosphere to create a spindly groove, and Funkstörung. The latter is a electronic cut-up, deploying small vocal snippets over a quirky beat; it also teatures an organ groove reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’.

First published 2003; re-edited 2014.

(c) 2014 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence