Bozzio, Terry & Billy Sheehan - Nine Short Films

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9062
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:45:00

Nine Short Films is a gritty, sometimes violent, look at life in the city... in the big bad world? the dark underside of life today (at least in some parts of the world) as Terry Bozzio (drums, keyboards, vocals, guitar-like synth solos, percussion and tuned percussion) and Billy Sheehan (bass, baritone guitars) viewed in 2002. This is not the gleaming towers and hi-rise buildings that thrust themselves into the sky, promising great things, but instead the scruffy, trash littered streets where the impoverished and homeless tend to be found ? or at least, the perception is that this is where they're found (we know that isn't always the case). Graffiti murals illustrate a life that is tough and dangerous, where lawlessness outweighs lawfulness? it's the seedier, seemier side of town - Bozzio and Sheehan capture this atmosphere quite well. Too well.

Musically we get a dark, intense, churning sound regardless of the track, all sung in Bozzio's spoken whisper. Fine for an effect ? Bono sung this way to end "Bullet The Blue Sky" (from the stellar The Joshua Tree) ? on one song, maybe two (and "Live By The Gun" is the best use), but an album of it deadens the effect. In fact, the vocals, as understated as they are, tend to overshadow the music. Sure, in one the tone might be a bit different, the rate of pulse might beat faster ("Black Wisdom") or slower ("Water And Blood") or funkier ("The Edge Of Circle," which is a livelier track than has been heard thus far and includes a lead guitar solo from Sheehan), but the effect is the same. Performance-wise, the duo deliver, as they are doing some very interesting things in the arrangements, but the oppressive atmosphere created by the overall feel leaves little outlet for release. It's an album that closes in on you and traps you; and not how you'd like. Perhaps that's the intent here, I don't know. Obviously, one living in this world sees little avenue for escape, so on that level, it's effective.

I, like Keith who reviewed this album upon its release, think an instrumental album would have been more satisfying for the listener. Bozzio's lyrical ideas could have served as setting, but then allowed one's imagination to take flight. I mean the industrial, screaming guitar on "Tornado Alley" suggests something very dark and harsh? but nothing about it suggests a the violence of a tornado (though the lyrics are clearly literal about the tornado, even if it is meant metaphorically).

It is like watching two talented directors settle for directing an average movie. Sure, there are some shocking scenes ? in the very first track "Live By The Gun," the protagonist's girlfriend (we presume) is killed ? by him, someone else in the room is unclear. But it is a stark and sudden development, as much as one can do in a song. Now, don't get me wrong, Bozzio has a interesting way with words, and as prose-poems, they are quite effective... but...

Taken alone, any one of these tracks would be an interesting, intense vignette, though the first track, "Live By The Gun" is the most concrete storywise, "Tornado Alley" coming a close second. Ultimately, you will probably find yourself reaching for your Niacin, Lonely Bears, Bozzio Levin Stevens, or any one of this pair's other projects.

Live By The Gun (5:49) / Black Wisdom (3:53) / Water And Blood (5:14) / Tornado Alley (4:47) / Distant Horses (6:31) / One More Winter (4:35)/Edge Of A Circle (5:16) / Finger Painting (6:23) / The Last Page (8:25) / Sub Continent (7:52)

Terry Bozzio - drums, keyboards, vocals, guitar-like synth solos, percussion and tuned percussion
Billy Sheehan - bass, baritone guitars; lead guitar (7)

Nine Short Films (2002)
since each have extensive discographies, check their websites for complete listing

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: July 6th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1000
Language: english


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