Adrian Adioetomo – Violent Love, Gentle Kill | Album Review

Adrian Adioetomo – Violent Love, Gentle Kill

MySeeds Records

CD: 14 Songs, 59 Minutes

Styles: Drone/Trance Blues, Esoteric Blues, All Original Songs

Over the past year, real life has gotten too real. Maybe that’s why surreal TV programs have gotten so popular. The Ghosts on CBS make us howl with laughter instead of fright, and Stranger Things can’t be any stranger than what we see on the evening news. We need a touch of the ethereal right now, the out-of-this-world, the uncanny valley. Keep this in mind as you consider the latest album from Indonesia’s Adrian Adioetomo, entitled Violent Love, Gentle Kill.  Its cover art is eerie. The lyrics to the fourteen original songs are printed in minuscule gray text upon a foggy background. The music is blues, but not the kind Muddy Waters fans would instantly recognize. It’s ever-so-slightly off kilter on most tracks, reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Brother Dege in equal measure. Imagine viewing blues through a kaleidoscope while enjoying your favorite adult beverage or recreational substance. That’s this CD to a T.

Consider the opener: “Burning Blood, Cold Cold Ground.” The intro features clear acoustic guitar against a hazy background of sound, coupled with a muffled drumbeat you can’t quite tap your toes to. The effect is one of quiet confusion, of getting lost on a misty night and wandering back alleys in search of shelter. “Volatile Love” lives up to its name with wicked slide and edgy atmosphere. It reminds me of some of Nirvana’s better offerings. “I Got Worry” fuses American blues with Indonesian trance, and the best and shortest song, “La Pistolera,” is FIRE. Later on comes the hard rocker “I Wanna,” and the catchy closer, “Restless,” will entice boomers and lovers of a more traditional blues sound. It’s a perfect tune for playing air guitar.

In an interview with the Jakarta Post, Adrian revealed the mindset behind this release:  “I wanted the album to be picturesque,” he said. “Country rhythms and Americana influences felt like the right tools to conjure images that represent the feelings and thoughts of the songs.” (Click to read more: What kinds of pictures does Adioetomo paint? That’s up to the individual listener, but for me, the vibe is definitely spooky.

Liking this album is not a matter of “liking,” per se, but of being on the same wavelength with the artist – of connecting with their work. Ever seen a painting that you couldn’t say you liked or disliked in conventional terms, but you still couldn’t get it out of your head a week later? The same principle applies to Violent Love, Gentle Kill. It lies deep in the uncanny valley of the blues.

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