Chris Cornell - _Scream_
(Universal, 2009)
by: Daniel Cairns (2 out of 10)
What is art? What is the purpose of art? Is it to comfort us and to remind us of that which must be held most sacred? Or is it to challenge and render us unsettled? After all, the unsettled mind is the mind that makes changes. No man ever caused upheaval in contentment.

If this indeed be the case, what kind of mind does Chris Cornell possess? One listen to _Scream_ is not enough to elucidate. Heck, even a hundred listens would get you no further. Such a stirring, bamboozling statement of artistic intent is this, that I've been forced to question much that I had previously thought pre-established.

Firstly, I bet you're wondering why I'm writing a review of Chris Cornell on the site. Well, he was in Soundgarden, you douchebags! Is that not enough? He's responsible for some of the best metal ever. See all those horrible bands you like? They probably listened to Soundgarden when they grew up. Frankly, you owe this man. And for that reason, it is without hesitation that I trundle on and review this record.

_Scream_ is an iconoclast. It is an oxymoron. It is apollonian and dionysian all at once. It is ying and yang. War and peace. Tango and Cash. You have never heard a record like this.

Rather than selling on his past glories and cashing in on easy success, Cornell (in classic Tolkien-esque tradition) has embarked on a musical odyssey alongside noted producer Timbaland (responsible for his seminal work with Justin Timberlake, Jay Z and Gorgoroth) and sought to find the muse that hath eluded him since Soundgarden became crap.

And by God, he has found something. Though lord knows what.

_Scream_ is the most startling amalgamation of sound this critic has heard since he happened upon Joey Deacon and a banjo. If it were a painting, it would use colours that hadn't been invented yet, and would incorporate shapes hitherto unseen. It's like taking meths for the first time, but with more dancing.

It is a dovetailing of old and new. Cornell's primordial roar, combined with the electro-glitch embuggerances of Timbaland. One would never expect such a record to work. But praise all, it does.

Forget Soundgarden. Forget Audioslave. Forget those posery prog-black-death bands that you'll grow out of in a few years time, as this is the future now. One would never expect such a collaboration to exist, let alone work, but in some mad way it does. It's like a bus crash with Missy Elliot and Led Zeppelin, yet even more compelling to watch. Cornell is on the finest lyrical form of his life as well. Take this little vignette from "Part of Me": "She was so friendly, I had one too many / But now that they tell she was rubbing up against me".

These lyrics are especially poignant, seeing as Chris is now 45. It evokes latter day Leonard Cohen, in the way that both are past their peak, yet still long for and hope to recapture their more virile, sexually potent days. Chris has had one too many, and the alcohol has stunted his erectile vibrancy, leaving him like John Wayne without a pistol.

I could go on, but to talk about the poetry on display here would be pointless. There's too much, and it would leave even Albert Camus flummoxed.

Basically, Cornell should be applauded. His musical volte-face is the bravest, most staggering artistic statement since Christian Bale threw a wobbler on the set of that "Terminator" film. Timbaland, the Phil Spector of his generation (he hasn't shot anyone yet though), has reached into the ether and fondled the anus of the muse, letting its excrement pour forth from Cornell's mouth.

These paltry words don't really do this release justice. It's like trying to describe a painting in the dark. You could take wild stabs at what the record means, but in the end that's all they would be. Nothing but ill-thought suppositions.

If I could describe the record in an image though, it would be this. Imagine walking through town in the middle of the day, and then a brontosaurus with some aviators lumbers up to you. He has an iPod and is wearing some Converse shoes. He says hello, and asks where to buy a sandwich. You tell him to nip to the nearest Greggs, and he does that, but he trips up and is flattened by an oncoming lorry. All the while, you are laughing.

That is Chris Cornell's _Scream_ right there.

Don't let the fact that it's the most ludicrously fucking awful record ever put you off. It needs to be heard as a study of the human condition. Only Kevin Rowland's incendiary _My Beauty_ can be deemed an apt comparison, and for that fact alone you must investigate.

Black Hole Sun. Won't you come. And grind up against me baby.


(article published 29/5/2009)

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