What does it sound like?:
Global Identity starts with a bang. The first four tracks are dynamic, playful, imaginative and full of hooks and riffs. Think Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) with Lou Reed on guitar instead of Phil Manzanera, plus added random. Starr resides in New York but is smitten by London. He seems to writes songs by stitching together fragments from each city’s musical heritage using William Burroughs’s cut-up technique. It’s difficult to know when one song has ended and another begun, as each has so many different, seemingly unrelated parts. There are guitars, both acoustic and electric, drones, funky bass, no-wave synths and a harp. It’s faded Glam with some free jazz skronking thrown in instead of carefully constructed bridges. The single, The Heart Is A Loaded Gun, even has a Genesis moment. On the radio, Starr’s wilful rejection of song structure would raise eyebrows. The element of surprise is certainly engaging. He’s a great believer in spontaneity and improvisation. If you showed up at the studio when he was recording at Konk Studios, Hornsey, North London, home of The Kinks, you’d stand a good chance of featuring on the album, even if you’ve never held an instrument before.
Then, just as the album enters the back straight on track five of twelve, there is a misstep, a stumble. Here Comes The Sunken, based on Abbey Road’s Sun King, is leaden. Even, an over-excited piano crescendo fails to secure a rescue. It takes a few tracks to regain the momentum and the magic is lost. An injudicious attempt to update Revolution 9 with 90 Dresden, nine minutes of audio collage, complete with ghostly piano, whispered conversations and radio noise, brings matters to a shuddering halt. The last two tracks, a straightforward rocker and a tedious lullaby, are effectively a limp to the finish.
Global Identity is an album that starts impressively but, in the end, is a damp squib. Still, the promise of the first four tracks mean it’s well worth keeping an ear out for this gentleman. He has some unusual ideas and is capable of creating something great from his chaotic working methods.
What does it all *mean*?
For an album meant to establish Starr’s credentials as an out-there explorer, maybe it isn’t experimental enough. He needs to work some wit and depravity into the lyrics and, perhaps, fewer drugs next time.
Goes well with…
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Might suit people who like…
For a young man, ‘the ringleader of New York City’s coolest music experiment’ (according to i-Q magazine), Starr has made a very old-fashioned sounding album.