Although it was technically their second album, Death in Vegas seemed to appear out of nowhere in early 2000, when Aisha first appeared as a single. The album had actually appeared
Opening in exceptional fashion with Dirge, which was actually the first single, it really starts as it means to go on, as over nearly six minutes the track gradually transforms from gentle vocal piece to an enormous rock track. It’s a great title too – strangely apt and yet also entirely inappropriate.
Soul Auctioneer introduces Bobby Gillespie on vocals, and is definitely less exciting than the album opener, but there’s still something pretty compelling about it. Other tracks are more experimental noise pieces, such as Death Threat and Flying, both longer jams which are definitely “electronic rock,” unless somebody invented that genre before me.
By now we’re at the halfway point of the album, and the exceptional Aisha finally arrives. It was technically the second single (a vinyl-only release of Neptune City preceded the album, which in turn pre-dated Aisha by several months), but it’s by far the best track on the album. Full of rock signatures, experimental noodling, and shouting, it also contains an exceptional vocal – although fortunately the Pingu impressions were removed from the single version. If there’s only one reason to buy this album, Aisha is it.
But there isn’t, there are plenty. Lever Street is a really sweet organ piece, uniquely slow among the tracks on this album, and then Aladdin’s Story is a more contemporary indie piece – still instrumental, but very pleasant too.
Broken Little Sister is another example of this. Death in Vegas were clearly heavily influenced by the indie explosion of the mid-1990s, as demonstrated by some of the collaborators on the next album Scorpio Rising (2002). But they also enjoy making very weird and wonderful noises with synthesisers on feedback loops, and this track is an example of that. It’s a full vocal track, which could quite easily have been performed by the likes of Oasis (actually, that’s probably not fair – it’s almost certainly better than anything they could do), but does not sound at all out of place here.
The closing track was also the first single, Neptune City, and is another of the three exceptional moments on the album. You could argue again that it’s little more than a jam, but there’s a lot going on in there, and it drives onwards and upwards for nearly five minutes before closing the album with a bang.
The Contino Sessions is certainly a challenging listen if you’re not a huge rock fan, and actually it may not be entirely easy even if you are, but it’s also very rewarding. Even if you only take into account the three singles, it’s a great album, and that’s a third of it taken care of already – but the rest is extremely enjoyable too.
You can still find The Contino Sessions from all major retailers.