I'd never heard of Adrian Wagner and basically bought this one at a yard sale based on the label - Charisma the eclectic UK imprint that has more than its share of interesting acts. Knowing what I know about this one now ... well I might have passed on it.
So Wagner's supposedly related to the classical composer Richard Wagner (he's the great, great grandchild, or something along those lines). and has carved out an extensive musical career, though rather than plowing through it, you can read his bio by clicking on the link to his website shown below.
I've listened to this album about a dozen times over the years and have to admit to having mixed feelings. The emphasis was clearly on Wagner's synthesizers (I'm sure there's someone out there that can provide the technical lowdown on what he was playing) and I'll give him credit for generally having a lighter touch than many of his contemporaries. Produced by John Edwards, there were times when "Instincts" struck me as little more than incidental music for a B flick, or perhaps a second rate attempt at Kraftwerk-styled Krautrock. At other times; particularly on side two, the album took off in the direction of aural travelogue ('Machu Picchu'). The overall effect was almost like a demo project with Wagner trying to show off his breadth and diversity ... yeah I can do ominous .... The album was quite diverse with Wagner displaying a penchant for nice melodies, as well as an occasional sense of humor (check out 'Amazon'). Regardless, i doubt that most listeners would want to hear this collection more than once in a blue moon.
- 'Where Are We Going?' opened the album with a slice of Kraftwerk styled electronics. The synthesizer propelled melody was actually surprisingly impressive. rating: *** stars
- Opening up with the sound of a babbling brook, 'Waterbrook' was another track with a decent melody, though this time around Wagner cluttered the song with an array of cheesy synthesizer effects. Imagine one of those early '80s Atari video games ... rating: ** stars
- At least before the ocean sound effects kicked in, 'High Seas' had a fun, bouncy lightweight melody. Cue the sound effects and you were off into darker and more disturbing Pink Floyd territory. rating: **** stars
- Built on an old fashion piano and what sounded like a synthesizer trying to mimic a saw, 'Love Theme' was a pretty, but rather bland ballad. rating: ** stars
- Side one's lone vocal, 'Amazon' came as a complete surprise. Opening up with a funky drum pattern, fuzz guitar, and some cool Mel Collins sax, it was pretty clear why most of Wagner's material was instrumental in nature. His raw and strained voice was definitely an acquired taste (imagine a British Captain Beefheart), though he sang with considerable enthusiasm and the song was surprisingly funky. rating: **** stars
- 'There's Another Summer Coming' was a nice enough atmospheric instrumental powered by some pretty acoustic guitar and sweeping synthesizers. For some reason I always think of Mike Oldfield when I hear it. rating: *** stars
- The percussion heavy 'Machu Picchu' was clearly meant to transport you to an exotic South American landscape. Like I said earlier, there were times this set sounded like incidental music taken from a film soundtrack ... rating: ** stars
- So what did Wagner use to get that weird 'saw' sound effect that was so prominent on 'Above the Horizon' ? Quite creepy. rating: *** stars
- Built on a jittery, repeating keyboard riff', 'Leaving I All Behind' found Wagner diving back into soundtrack territory. Musically the song started out pretty stark, but quickly expanded to include everything including the kitchen sink and then suddenly ... song over. Shame since it was actually one of the album's better tracks. rating: *** stars
"Instincts" track listing:
1.) Where Are We Going? (instrumental) (Adrian Wagner) - 3:56
2.) Waterbrook (instrumental) (Adrian Wagner) - 2:48
3.) High Seas (instrumental) (Adrian Wagner) - 6:30
4.) Love Theme (instrumental) (Adrian Wagner) -
5.) Amazon (Adrian Wagner) - 3:06
1.) There's Another Summer Coming (instrumental) (Adrian Wagner) - 4:50
2.) Machu Picchu (instrumental) (Adrian Wagner) - 3:40
3.) Above the Horizon (instrumental) (Adrian Wagner) - 1:51
4.) Leaving I All Behind (instrumental) (Adrian Wagner) - 4:52