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David Byrne
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION: MUSIC FROM THE FILM YOUNG ADAM
(Thrill Jockey)
Stars graphics

Thrill Jockey, the home of slow-rock trendsetters Tortoise, seems perfect for this Byrne soundtrack to the Scottish indie movie. The music creeps along like fog and has the same atmosphere ó a gauzy blend of strings, keys, timpani, and guitars that turns transparent or dense with slight shifts in dynamics. Unlike Philip Glass, Byrne puts melody and harmonic density above rhythmic drive, and that gives these 15 compositions a graceful bearing. The vocal pieces come at the end, when the chamber orchestra Byrne assembled is thinned out to highlight his lyrics and his piano. "The Great Western Road," which closes the disc, plays out like the story of a life ó or maybe Godís assessment of Man, who bumbles his way along in a darkness of his own making. Byrneís sing-song cadences give the tune the feel of a macabre nursery rhyme.

Members of Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian ó genuine Scots as well as kindred sonic spirits ó pitch in. And Byrneís cover of Charles Mingusís "Haitian Fight Song," which breaks the mood with its honking saxes and relentless swing, keep things from getting too dour and self-absorbed. Fans of Brian Eno might find Lead Us Not into Temptation easier to absorb than Byrneís long-time followers will, but itís proof that the former head Talking Headís imagination and scope continue to grow.

BY TED DROZDOWSKI


Issue Date: November 7 - 13, 2003
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