Issue #135: Moss Side Story by Barry Adamson

October 15, 2018

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Moss Side Story by Barry Adamson
Released On March 6, 1989
Released By Mute Records

This Week’s Selection Chosen By Jeremy Shatan

My wife and I were married in 1988 and that’s when we got our first CD player. I think four friends chipped in for it. In anticipation, I ordered our first CDs from Columbia House: some Motown compilations, Are You Experienced? — pickings were kind of slim! Then came the conundrum of having the hardware, but finding the software very expensive. This led to taking chances in the used or cut-out sections in the few stores that had them, which is how I ended up with Moss Side Story by Barry Adamson, probably among the first 50 of the shiny discs in my collection.

I think I may have read about it somewhere, but I’m also fairly certain I had Adamson mixed up with Barry Andrews, the former XTC keyboard player who had gone on to form Shriekback and rock many a college party with “Lined Up.” See how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing? Adamson himself had more than enough pedigree, as I realized later, having played bass in Magazine and Luxuria with Howard Devoto and also with Nick Cave on the first four Bad Seeds albums. I had also been turned on to Elmer Bernstein’s swaggering soundtrack for The Man With The Golden Arm and seeing that Adamson covered its theme song likely sealed the deal and had me parting with the $8.00 to get the album.

Film noir and detective fiction were also references in my photography at the time and the tag line on the cover of Moss Side Story played right into that: “In a black and white world, murder brings a touch of colour…” I can imagine my interest growing on the subway ride back to Flatbush, as I flipped through the booklet, admiring the gritty, very British shots by Lawrence Watson and reading the atmospheric poem by Dave Graney (excerpt: “I wake up in the arms of a beautiful girl who takes me in her eyes and we / fly over the city for a few centuries both ways / Death is for the birds who don’t notice the sky…”).

Paging to the end of the booklet, I would have arrived at the credits, which had a few familiar names, namely Diamanda Galas, our lady of the thousand-octave range, and Rowland S. Howard, who also worked with Nick Cave as guitarist for the Boys Next Door and the Birthday Party before forming Crime And The City Solution. Two other Nick Cave associates, Mick Harvey and Kid Congo Powers, were also present on background vocals. Seeing these names only salted my interest and made me think I was in for a dark and rich experience. And one listen was all it took to realize that this was Adamson’s show entirely and that his ambitions went far beyond the four strings of a bass.

The first track, “On The Wrong Side Of Relaxation,” starts with sound effects — cars driving, footsteps on pavement, half-heard voices — and ramps up the tension so subtly that it’s almost a relief when Galas starts screaming. It ends in what sounds like a rainswept alley with a woman saying breathlessly, “You have nothing to worry about, Mr. Adamson, I won’t breathe a word… to anyone… ” Smash cut to “Under Wraps,” which grooves along like an ITC TV theme from the ’60s, piano and Hammond organ (both played by Adamson’s MVP, Seamus Beaghen of The Ruts) pulsing atop a driving rhythm. I was hooked — I had to know what happened next!

One of the brilliant things about Moss Side Story is that while there is plenty of narrative, there isn’t so much story that you get tired of listening to it. There are lots of clues, however, including some lost in the streaming age, such as the fact that the album is divided into four acts. The first four tracks constitute “The Ring’s The Thing,” the next four are “Real Deep Cool,” followed by “The Final Irony,” also four songs, and finally the three tracks of “For Your Ears Only.” Adamson is clearly having fun with all this, but his deep composition and production skills keep Moss Side Story from becoming a novelty record.

Suck On The Honey Of Love” and “Everything Happens To Me” are gorgeous, glorious mood pieces with the latter infused by a melancholy that is the precise equivalent of staring at raindrops on a foggy window — until something mechanical enters, triggering a segue into “The Swinging Detective” (Adamson loves his easy puns), which heralds in doom with big chords and a smoky tenor sax solo. For sheer mystery, look no further than “Intensive Care,” a malevolent cloud of synth that seems to settle in the room like a bad omen. Adamson’s love of the dark side also takes over “Free At Last,” which starts breezily before being overtaken by orchestral shocks — all in a mere 1:17.

I didn’t know until now that those seismic strings were the original ending for Moss Side Story, with the final act containing CD only bonus tracks. But who would want to be without Adamson’s superbly supercharged take on “The Man With The Golden Arm,” which ends the CD in relentless fashion? You also get the very weird take on Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March Of A Marionette,” otherwise known as the theme from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” sounding like it’s coming out of a cloud of opium, and a nifty number for bass and keys called “Chocolate Milkshake,” possibly a little sonic nod to Stewart Copeland’s theme for The Equalizer, which came out about a year earlier.

If Moss Side Story was a gambit to show off Adamson’s skills as soundtrack composer, a sort of high concept demo reel, it paid off very well as he went on to do some great work on ’90s classics like Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers and David Lynch’s Lost Highway. He’s also continued putting out albums, becoming one of the great British groove merchants in the tradition of Massive Attack while never losing his grip on his cinematic fantasies. Coming later this month is a new compilation, Memento Mori (Anthology 1978-2018), which will be a great opportunity to gain perspective on his whole career. But Moss Side Story‘s exploratory nature and what feels like Adamson’s sheer excitement at finally realizing his musical dreams will make it forever my favorite by him and one of the CDs I see as the foundation of my digital-age collection.

Jeremy Shatan (@anearful)
Prescient & Appreciative Musical Omnivore

A sonic inquirer showcasing the promise of film noir & depth of dark wave.

My dad loved movies, and he found a way to incorporate clips into just about every college class he taught. My sister followed in his footsteps by becoming a professor and teaching film classes, and while my own career as a film student was short lived, I did get to take an undergraduate course on detective novels and their onscreen adaptations. That’s where and when I first tried to wrap my brain around the concept of a MacGuffin: an arbitrary object that propels the plot forward thanks to the characters’ shared interest in it. The statue in The Maltese Falcon is a classic example, as is the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Jeopardy! recently classified the Heart of Te Fiti from Moana as one, which I hadn’t thought about. But that’s exactly the point; you think the movie you’re watching is about the MacGuffin, but really it’s about the action that surrounds it. Moss Side Story works the same way. It’s so tempting to try to extract a narrative from Barry Adamson’s breakthrough solo album. I heard a chase scene in “Sounds From The Big House,” an innuendo-laced conversation over a nightcap in a smoky bar in “Everything Happens To Me,” and brash exit music over rolling end credits in “The Man With The Golden Arm.” And while it’s fun to imagine that there’s an opaque, imagined narrative driving Moss Side Story — and while it’s certainly fun to invent your own — the narrative element is a red herring. (The fact that “story” is in the title strikes me as wonderfully ironic.) Here’s what Adamson had to say last year about his motivation for making the album: “I kind of picked up the idea that if you wanted to write music in film, then you already had to be doing it. Which was a strange Catch-22. So I thought I’d put this record together as a calling card, send it around to people.” Moss Side Story isn’t a story. It’s music made with the goal of making more music. It’s a little like finding out in Citizen Kane that “Rosebud” was a sled. Naked simplicity at the heart of a flurry of brilliance.

Davy Jones (@youhearthat)
Idealistic Seeker Of Neoteric Sounds

“What kind of music doesn’t Barry Adamson play?” might be the most appropriate question to ask oneself when exploring the history of this soloist/band member/composer/film scorer. However, don’t let that initial query deter you from approaching Moss Side Story. A wearer of many musical hats though Adamson might be, his first full-length outing isn’t some stylistically aimless, potpourri collection. There is a defined path for a sonic concept that runs the length of this nearly hour long project and it’s a perfect pick for being in the midst of the month that houses Halloween. In fact, upon starting the eerily minimal, stringed, metallic, screech saturated, opening track, “On The Wrong Side Of Relaxation,” it was practically a given I would be searching to see if Trent Reznor or Atticus Ross’s names would cross paths with Adamson’s somewhere in dialogue. Interview coverage on the 1997 film, The Lost Highway by David Lynch, proved me correct. Seeing as Moss Side Story is a conceptual soundtrack to an imaginary crime noir film, it makes absolute sense to find him in collaboration with others on the soundtrack to neo-noir film only eight years later. The tone of Moss Side Story does quickly shift away from the creepy and toward the upbeat with a repetitious, chugging syncopation line on bass; melodically vibrant organ and piano; rapid shaker percussion, and the subtle but still notable chatter of bustling city goers all propelling track two, “Under Wraps.” Yet, it’s a fitting transition when imagining the establishment of a busy 1950s town with lively town life and an active crime-detective dynamic as setting up the exposition in the hours following what sound like a brutal chase and murder in the prior track. Indeed, as the album progresses, the change from one piece to the next only gets more and more seamless; especially once you think of each new track as moving the story forward to a distinctly new scene, with new characters, new plot developments, and new levels of emotional tension. The bell and marimba tones playing a gingerly pulsing five note motif in unison, laced intermittently with a quick blues style flourish at the end of “Central Control,” give the moving “plot” just the kind of thematic bit suitable for a resident detective. Still, perhaps it’s better to say this kind of poised theme works better for a detective daytime scene because further along in the thick of “The Swinging Detective,” there’s no denying the classic noir pairing of detective and a solo alto sax melody — only in this setting, the mood feels ostensibly darker thanks to recurring, sustained, loud, bowed double bass notes. Yet, as the track progresses, aggressively snappy drums, a gradually faster tempo, and occasional minor interval tremolos and trills on flute and mandolin reintroduce the idea that the character at hand doesn’t just get a calm and cool introduction sans action and high stakes. Honestly, I could go on and on about the nuance applied to create such a mentally and emotionally stimulating album but beyond reading every single reaction to every single bit of clever sound staging Adamson has assembled here, just know it’s an sonically vivid and creative outing that makes for not just an intriguing listen, but a downright fun one. Even lacking an actual film, this album tells more than enough story to be engaging from front to back and for the fact that the record doesn’t actually accompany a film? I’m sure any music teacher out there could use this to easily discuss the relationship between sound, mood, and visuals, while any creative writing teacher out there could assign the open and wildly limitless task of creating a screenplay to go along with this hour of audibly descriptive music.

Kira Grunenberg (@shadowmelody1)
Prolific Sonic Scribe & Unifier

Moss Side Story contains some truly unsettling music. And given its genesis, it got me to thinking: What makes a movie scary? Ghosts? Demons? An unstoppable mass murderer? The end of the world? The monster in your dreams? Nah, not to me. For me, it’s taking the mundane and making it the thing to be afraid of. Example: The Ring scared the shit outta me in high school because it made something I owned (a television) the portal for Samara to come and kill me. It wasn’t the creepy girl that was terrifying; instead, it was her access to her victims — the TV set. That made it feel possible or even plausible. Similarly, this year’s Hereditary was frightening in a way that I haven’t experienced in some time. Without any spoilers, it’s one of those films where you’re never fully sure what’s real and what isn’t until the end, and even then it’s debatable. That “am I crazy or not?” vibe — the way you panic inside your own head when something seems wrong — left me with several days’ worth of bad sleep. So whatever movie that Barry Adamson envisioned when he made Moss Side Story, I have to believe it was a horror movie. When you make jazz and big band sound menacing, when you make lounge sound odd or “slightly off,” when you paint the whole thing in Lynchian unease (especially on a piano ballad!), the feeling I get is one closer to Wes Craven than, say, the Coen brothers. That Adamson went on to contribute music to David Lynch’s Lost Highway only confirms my suspicions. So if a film were made based on MSS and it was horror, judging just by the soundtrack I can tell I’d probably lose some sleep going in. And you know what? I’d still see it.

Steve Lampiris (@stevenlampiris)
Sure, Let’s Go With That

Oddly enough, of all the different types of music that we experience via OYR, I probably listen to albums like Moss Side Story more than anything (with the exception of hip-hop). For decades, scores and soundtracks have been some of the most fertile ground for samples used in hip-hop production. The genre is such an obvious choice because the albums are largely vocal free, and usually feature sparse arrangements or hits from single instruments that are nearly untraceable. If you’re really in to the sample game, then you are no stranger to the more obscure European, Asian, and South American soundtracks — the more obscure, the better. That’s why Moss Side Story sounded so familiar to me. Although it’s for no movie in particular, it’s got all the trappings of every movie in particular. The album is an emotional thrill ride that takes us though excitement, love, joy, pain, suspense, surprise and demise. I particularly fell for the industrial darkness of “Auto Destruction.” There’s one part in particular I’ll be sampling immediately, but I’ll leave that to your imagination. But the greatest achievement of this record is the nostalgic sound. Although recorded in the late 1980s, much of the record sounds like it’s from the late 1960s, which is quite a feat considering the overwhelming wave of synthetics during that time. I’m very interested to see if Adamson ended up getting loads of film and/or TV work after such an ambitious and well-crafted demonstration.

Kellen “J. Clyde” Ford (@jclyde757)
Steadfast Hip-Hop Historian & Creator

Click below to watch the mesmeric sepia video for “The Man With The Golden Arm.”

Serving as a perfect conduit for this abstract film, and the titular 1955 classic.

There’s a festival this time of year called “Nocturne”. As the name suggests, it’s a nighttime event featuring the use of light as a unifying theme in artistic works. The lights that make up the show were always diverse, usually one-off works of art by local artists both commercial and independent who had all sorts of things to say, ideas to convey, causes to represent and fun to have. It’s this last part that seemed absent in 2018, however. In a year of political upheaval, social awakening, and increasing tribalism and division, artists are using their talents to take up arms. This year, Nocturne had an express intent — to highlight and really drive home the issues affecting our nations’ indigenous peoples. These are important issues and deserve attention to be sure. But quietly, and sheepishly, a small part of me pined for the whimsy and wonder of the sometimes strange notions that an unfocused and unbridled artist could inspire. As I drove from exhibit to exhibit, I was listening to Barry Adamson’s 1989 release Moss Side Story and was struck by how contrasted his goals were with the artists of the festival. Adamson endeavoured to make a soundtrack for a movie he imagined. It is, in some sense, an homage to a work never produced simply because it was the soundtrack he wished to produce, in lieu of such a movie. The result is an hour of music as entertaining as it is unsettling. Intended to progress like a film noir, Moss Side Story is a collection of instrumental tracks which sound far more experimental and sci-fi than any film noir I’ve ever seen. Air pressure synths, organs, jazz ensembles, disembodied choirs, cold-wave influence, and anguished cries call out from the distant silence. There’s a moment mid-way though “On The Wrong Side Of Relaxation” where, I believe, a crime is being committed. Someone is either being hurt, making love, or some combination of both — it’s unclear. It sounds a lot like sex, but the listener is a witness to something and it’s unclear. Whatever it is, it’s not romantic. It’s more disconcerting than that. Perhaps my doubts lie in the ominous squeals and droning bass strings which accompany it. I decided in that moment that if I heard my neighbour having sex like that to the sound of someone droning the low notes of a cello, I’d definitely call the police. There’s no love in the sound of rough sex and low cello notes. The breaths are quick and too abruptly muted to be indulgent. That unsettled wonder accompanies you then for a 15 track thrill ride from swing-influenced opener “Under Wraps” to the industrial jazz rocker “The Man With The Golden Arm.” You’re complicit now. There are stranger moments like the echoing, dub-influenced “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” which begins and ends with the eerily delightful but perverted rendition of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents theme song. Like his contemporaries, Barry Adamson was not afraid to use his artistic tools to have an idea, and confidently see it through purely for its own sake. I admire that. Certainly there is a nobility to works of art with a political or social aim, but as I drove by Nocturne’s light shows blazing in some abstract manner a path to redemption, the meaning was obscured by the cold autumn rain. As the light bled through the drops on my windshield, what was far clearer was Adamson’s alarming effectiveness, colouring and influencing the scene in front of me. We should never forget about works which celebrate and provoke delight and fear and happiness and rage. All of these characters make cameo appearances throughout Moss Side Story, a work which can be appreciated for its emotional impact but also the merit it’s due for merely having been created at all.

Darryl Wright (@punksteez)
Lovechild Of The Music & Technology Marriage

You know how sometimes you write something or come up with an idea that you think seems terribly clever, only to discover it really wasn’t that clever, at all? I reviewed Barry Adamson’s Moss Side Story this week, extolling its virtues as an album to listen to while reading Richard Stark’s Parker books, or (if you prefer your noir on the neo side) Chris Holm’s Michael Hendricks series — especially this album’s “The Swinging Detective.” It immediately gave off that vibe and I was really pleased with myself. Until I looked up some of the performers, and learned that was the entire point of the album, to provide a soundtrack to a noir film that doesn’t exist. Oh. So then I was stuck, and had no idea where I was going with this, but I kept listening. And I messaged Jeremy that I was really digging his pick for this week, while re-reading my previous drafts that talked about so many other artists with only a tangential relation to this one (at best). And I told him about that, saying “I think the only one I mentioned that could share a seat with this is Naked City? And even then, I imagine fisticuffs in black and white,” to which Jeremy replied that he imagined Adamson could take Zorn in a fair fight. And that’s where I am now. With the image of a grainy, black and white Barry Adamson and John Zorn dressed as private dicks, re-enacting the fight scene from They Live while this album’s arrangement of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” plays in the background. And if you can imagine that, I think that’s all the review you need.

SJ Lebowski
50 Foot Pop Queenie

I was 16 years old and a senior in high school. I’d met some kids from a different school through my activities with our school’s drama club, and these kids were actually into weird/cool music like I was. We lived about two hours away from each other, but used to meet up in Charlottesville, which was around the halfway point between our respective rural hamlets. My best friend in that group was really into shoegaze and indie rock, but some of the other kids in the group were into stuff a lot farther outside my personal experience. We always used to meet at an independent record store, and I can remember one of the guys in the group that I didn’t know as well describing to one of the clerks an album he’d heard recently that he really liked — an instrumental record that was a soundtrack to a non-existent movie. “Barry Adamson,” said the clerk, and my friend agreed, excitedly. He left the store with a copy of Moss Side Story that day, which was a three-year-old album at the time. Now it’s nearly 30 years old, and I’m finally listening to it myself for the very first time. Since those days, I’ve heard some of the bands Adamson was part of — specifically postpunk provocateurs Magazine and noise maniacs The Birthday Party — but none of that stuff prepared me in any way for what Adamson is up to on this record. Moss Side Story is apparently a crime film set in the Moss Side neighborhood of Manchester, England, where Adamson is from. And if I didn’t tell you that, you’d figure it out pretty quickly, despite the fact that there’s almost no dialogue included in the score. The songs dip into different sounds that one would expect to hear in a smoky European nightclub circa mid-20th century — seductive jazz and smooth North African sounds a la Casablanca. At times, as on “Sounds From The Big House,” bebop jazz composition runs up against modern production sounds and instrumentation, in a manner that evokes a slumming Bowie circa Let’s Dance. “Auto Destruction” even shows quite a bit of Adamson’s postpunk background in an ominous, clanging instrumental perfect for evocation of a car chase, though at other points it suddenly cuts to what sounds like a spooky situation coming down, one the hero only has seconds to save his love interest from. All of Moss Side Story is like this, really — a vivid soundscape intricately constructed to bring a mostly-unstated narrative to brilliant life in your mind. It works, too. It may not be the kind of thing that’s good for everyday background listening (though depending on what you’re up to, it might just be perfect). However, it’s a hell of an adventure, and deserves, if nothing else, a spot on that shelf of treasured movies you often return to on languorous afternoons.

Drew Necci (@buzzorhowl)
Insightful Scholar Of The Underground

Expansive & detailed, the world constructed here is sharply familiar yet oddly spectral.

I haven’t kept it a secret in my ramblings for Off Your Radar that I romanticize late nights, the NYC subway system, and 24 hour diners (and if I haven’t mentioned that I have a deep fondness for eating at diners at any time of the day… well now I have). It’s comforting to me that all three can provide a sense of isolation while still not being truly alone, although I should at least acknowledge that this might only be true in New York City and maybe if I lived somewhere else, I wouldn’t find the isolation in a crowd as comforting. But I’m losing my focus. What I’m trying to say is that I like staying up all night, I like taking the subway, and I like eating diner food. Enter: Barry Adamson and Moss Side Story. A score to a crime movie that doesn’t exist. This might very well be one of the coolest albums that I’ve listened to all year. And it feels almost as if Moss Side Story was tailor made for my late night subway rides. I say “almost” in part because I don’t smoke, and there’s a strong aura of “cigarette loosely hanging between one’s lips” surrounding nearly every track on the album, but also because my nights, whether at a diner or just on the A train, don’t (to my knowledge, at least) involve murder of any kind. Still, listening to this album has created a literal soundtrack to my late nights and has affected the way that I perceive the things around me. On Friday night, I watched as a man (poorly) hid his Coors Light can in a plastic bag, before completely trying to hide it and lifting the can to his lips in plain sight. That in itself is already a troubling story, but watching it unfold to “Everything Happens To Me” made it an incredibly somber moment. Moments later, as the song transitioned into “Auto Destruction,” with its menacing drums that remind me of Broken-era Nine Inch Nails, quickly turned that exact same scene into something much more sinister- especially as he moved on to his second beer and I noticed he was sitting next to another man who was with his young son. Or fast forward to my latest diner trip: a person sitting a few tables away from me, also by themselves, reading a Zadie Smith novel and slowly eating a plate of fries. “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” plays through my headphones, and I get the sensation that they’re waiting for a lover (whether former, or soon-to-be is irrelevant). Moments later the night porter comes waddling through with a mop bucket to finish cleaning the back room, hilariously set to the similarly bumbling “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” And these are all things I witnessed while spending less than a week with this album — I’m morbidly curious to see what other scenes are out there that need a killer score. (And for the record, I never did find out of that person’s lover ever came because I ended up leaving before them.)

Dustin Gates (@cmoncheermeup)
Relapsed Pop Culture Junkie

The idea of writing a soundtrack album to a non-existent crime movie is so exciting and enticing to me that I can’t believe it’s not something that happens all the time. I know Barry Adamson from the Lost Highway soundtrack and this album reminded me a lot of tracks from that album. There’s a playfulness in his songs that only adds to the underlying menace. It’s more fun to imagine what is going on in the movie during certain musical movements when the movie doesn’t exist, though it does make me want to try my hand at writing a movie to suit this soundtrack. I also found it very interesting and possibly cool when Adamson used a “clip from the movie” and the clip contained a woman talking to a man named Mr. Adamson. The standout track for me, in a sea of excellent tracks, is “Under Wraps.” It feels like a fast-paced chase scene in my heard when that particular song is on. I really appreciate this kind of soundtrack. It doesn’t require you to do either two of the things it seems most soundtracks are asking you to do: one, have seen the movie and two, enjoy semi-generic, often unmemorable classical music. In the same moment that I’m delighted to listen to an ominous and noiry soundtrack for a movie that doesn’t exist, I’m also saddened that I’ll never get to see what sounds like a truly thrilling motion picture.

James Anderson (@unabashedjames)
Devoted Docent Of Musical Concepts

We get some pretty strange and interesting stuff here at Off Your Radar. Just when I thought I could no longer be surprised by the albums that appear in my inbox, Moss Side Story took what I previously thought was strange and turned it upside-down. I mean that in a good way though. This vibrant soundtrack for an imaginary noir film that no one could even guess the plot to is as entertaining and dynamic as it is confusing. I mean, how many imaginary soundtrack albums are there out there in the world? This is the first one I’ve ever heard of and if there are any others, I doubt they’re as lively as Moss Side Story. One minute you’re relaxing with “Suck On The Honey Of Love” then you hit rock bottom with “Everything Happens To Me” and just when things are starting to look up you find you’re suddenly back in hot water with “The Swinging Detective” — or at least that’s what it feels like to me. We’ll probably never know the ins and outs of this story and I’m sure Adamson wants to keep it that way, but if you’re an avid day dreamer like me I’m sure you’ll get a lot of great stories out of this album.

Erin Calvert (@erinpcalvert)
Elder Goth In The Making

“A soundtrack to a non-existent crime film.” Some variation of that sentence exists in nearly every piece of writing that exists on this record. And it infuriates me. It absolutely infuriates me. Because nothing about Moss Side Story is non-existent, something anyone who gives it a listen will affirm. Some of you reading will know about the annual Black List, a survey that reveals the most liked screenplays not yet produced, as decided by development executives in the film industry. While some popular screenplays on the list are instantly picked up, others languish for years. Looking back to that first list in 2005, you can find a few that took over a decade to finally come out on the big screen, among them 2013’s Nebraska which ended up being nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. There are plenty of others with long delays to find throughout the surveys, most notably Passengers, the 2016 film that originally was highlighted by the Black List in 2007. The movie, a rushed blockbuster starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, was a flawed attempt at exploring the fluid nature of morality through the lens of awe-inspiring CGI and theatrics. The script, a patient deconstruction, was a nuanced look into the best and worst of humanity — its struggles, its successes, its compromises, and its altruism. Watching the movie after falling in love with the script was an unimaginable disappointment, and I think back to this when listening to Moss Side Story. When I read the screenplay, it was vibrant, it was intimate… it existed as a film, just one waiting to be made. This album plays out the same way from the opening track “On The Wrong Side Of Relaxation” through “Free At Last,” with the last three tracks feeling more as mid or post-credit larks. It’s also vibrant and intimate, as well as surreal and startling at times. Its story is something you can experience with a deep listen, but is also sensed even through a casual listen, just like that cable TV movie you put on in the background while you cook, clean, or veg out (shout-out to TBS and TNT for always being great). You might say that Passengers finally got made so it’s an improper comparison, but I’d say that the disparity between the screenplay and final product surely backs me up. Any screenplay is going to get changed a million times before popping up in your local theater, and while most are faithful and don’t deviate too much from the core, there are also thousands of instances of Passengers where it’s almost as if someone re-wrote it with no heart in mind. Why should Adamson have to compromise his dynamic story then just in order for us to say it “exists?” Moss Side Story is a film noir featuring crime, passion, action, and, most importantly, emotional humanity. You don’t need to glue your eyes to a screen for an hour to experience it though — you can take it with you wherever you go and just play out every chase, startle, kiss, and scream in your own mind with this audacious music backing up each pivotal scene.

Doug Nunnally (@musicdoug)
Garrulous Aural Braggart

Next Week’s Selection:
Runners In The Nerved World by The Sidekicks
Chosen By Dustin Gates

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Editor: Doug Nunnally

Contributors: James Anderson, Laura Burroughs, Erin Calvert, Kellen “J. Clyde” Ford, Dustin Gates, Kira Grunenberg, Davy Jones, Chelsea Kostrey, Steve Lampiris, SJ Lebowski, David Munro, Drew Necci, Jeremy Shatan, & Darryl Wright

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