Scorpio Rising follows the same approach as Death in Vegas' remarkable predecessor, The Contino Sessions. Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes corral a host of special guests to populate their barbed soundscapes and their knack for finding the perfect environment to bring out the best in their chosen guest is as sure as ever. Liam Gallagher excels himself on the title track, inspired by cult filmmaker Kenneth Anger's celebrated movie, Paul Weller brings just the right measure of disdain to a simmering version of Gene Clark's "So You Say You Lost Your Baby", while Hope Sandoval's sultry tones bring a sensual glow to the storming finale "Help Yourself". Throughout, Indian violinist Doctor Subramanian helps flesh out the eclectic but perfectly tailored backing tracks. Fearless and Holmes display the sort of insight that would be the envy of any record company A&R department. --Gavin Martin
The first taste of the new material, "Hands Around My Throat", was a curious appetiser, a pleasant enough nod towards the electroclash farrago, although not the greatest tune. If, however, they could afford to leave the formidable b-side, "Scorpio", off the album, what possible delights would messrs Fearless and Holmes offer us this time?
One thing is clear from the first power-chord: there are great tranches of Scorpio Rising that have nothing to do with dance or electronica: DIV are clearly wearing their Rock pants today.
"Leather" is an obvious calling card, opening their account with an absurdly fuzzy bass, balls-out guitar, thrashing drums and radiant keyboards. "Girls" clarifies the statement of intent, initially laden with Susan Dillane's mellifluous cooing, before careering, unapologetically, into a joyous cacophony, still underpinned by the angelic vocal. This rough diamond aesthetic becomes a feature of the record; however battered and grubby songs initially sound, you dont have to scratch far beneath the surface for the innate, melodic lustre to appear.
The female voices are generally stacked on a dreamy, ethereal axis - Dillane is joined by the remarkably similar-sounding Dot Allison and the sublime Hope Sandoval. By contrast, theres a whiff of Dad Rock about the choice of blokes; Liam Gallagher rubbing shoulders with Paul Weller, covering a tune by erstwhile Byrds singer, Gene Clark. That said, Liam sounds rejuvenated on the albums title track, excited to get his laughing gear round a song worth singing.
To an extent, Scorpio Rising is to DIV what Bow Down To The Exit Sign was to David Holmes, with Liam serving a similar purpose to Bobby Gillespie on the Holmes wig-out, "Sick City". Both artists are born out of DJ culture and enjoy wildly diverse musical tastes, which isn't to say that this is merely a voguish rediscovery of garage rock. "Killing Smile" strolls through countrified banjos and a field of strings recorded in India, followed by the minimal and faintly Dr Who-ish "Natja", the nearest thing to electronica as we know it and even that has cellos.
There's nothing here that quite matches the malevolent attack of Iggy Pop confessing "Im a murderer" on "Aisha" (from The Contino Sessions), but "Help Yourself" closes proceedings on a stellar high. It starts anonymously enough, but builds patiently through 10.5 epic minutes of Hope Sandoval's divine, trouser-melting tones and more Indian strings to a majestic finale. As the last strains drift out of the speakers and over the horizon, you'd be a brave man to bet on what the next album will sound like. --Pootle
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CD Concrete, HARD 53 CD1, 2002 10 Track