Adult Cinema - 365

Adult Cinema – 365

365 is the seasonally inspired release from Adult Cinema, the remarkable one-man project created by multi-instrumentalist Mike Weston, following on from his third album Hot and Cold in 2020. Weston displays an impressive multi-instrumental talent in four extended pieces based on the four seasons across the year – hence the title of 365.

Adult Cinema may not be familiar to many so perhaps a quick recap may be helpful. Adult Cinema is an object lesson in self-belief and persistence by Mike Weston ever since his debut in 2007 with This is Your Life, which inexplicably made very little impact. However, in an unexpected twist some songs were picked up for TV, film and advertising which generated some interest, encouraging Weston to persist. This is Your Life, re-released in 2018, brimmed with high quality progressive and classic rock sounds, reminiscent of some elements of Pink Floyd and a whole range of other influences. Adult Cinema went in rather a different direction for Hot and Cold in 2020, fusing different styles from the 60’s and 70’s. The album was filled with a variety of musical ideas, evoking the sense of freedom and decadence of those decades with a series of mostly shorter songs. As outlined in the TPA review, that album also characterised the inspiration behind the peculiar name of this one-man project – (just be cautious when Googling the term ‘Adult Cinema’ !!). Weston explained he had:

“…been in thrall to ‘Taxi Driver’ (the movie) from my teens… those scenes where De Niro is walking up the New York streets with the steam coming from the subway grills amid the night-time neon glow… just resonates with me and my view of the music I create… the 1970s had a… brown nylon fuzz of dirt across the hangover from the liberation of the 60’s”.

365 takes Adult Cinema is a very different direction yet again with an ambitious suite of largely instrumental pieces of about 15 minutes each. There is a distinct air of prog about such ambition, but this is no ‘Prog-by-Numbers’ and avoids the all too common ‘hammering different and disparate bits of music clumsily together to make it long’ approach which some prog artists appear to believe constitutes Progressive Rock!! Weston is far more skilled and subtle in his approach with a refreshing open-mindedness about the influences he draws upon, and the imaginative way he melds ideas and styles together.

Mike Weston launched a Kickstarter campaign for this album in February 2024, which impressively overreached its target very rapidly, suggesting there is very much an audience for his material. He described this new release thus:

“I don’t like labels, but the truth is this is ‘progressive’ and it’s a concept album. It’s four pieces that reflect the cycles of the year and how I relate that to the journey through life…

This is an extension of what I’ve done so far as Adult Cinema. It’s me letting go of the approach I’ve had on my previous albums and just writing pieces of music that aren’t forced into musical pigeonholesIt’s more expanded, more depth. I’m not restricting myself to songs this time…”

So what do we find in 365?

The green shoots of the album grow with resonating synth vibes and subtle bass underpinning David Streames intoning a poem invoking images of the season of new growth. Spring continues to grow with soft drumming and a more vibrant synth wave, and then recedes again with the sounds of bird song and a recapitulation of the opening theme, once again a bed for Streames’ poetic speech. Spring then starts to blossom forth with a restrained, gorgeous Rick Wright-esque keyboard passage. The constant bass foundation continues as the piece flowers with Floydian guitar chords interweaving with a more assertive Hammond organ taking us to the end… well, it certainly is more prog and extended than previous Adult Cinema albums.

Anyone expecting this to be an extended Pink Floyd homage will be rudely awakened by the left turn taken in Summer, which is suffused with more exotic sounds and styles associated with days in the sun. The sound of insects and the sound of a can of beer being opened and someone clearly sitting back and enjoying an iced drink on a hot day immediately sets the sun-drenched scene. This piece sizzles with a variety of styles, commencing with Caribbean flavoured horns, which then blend into bluesy harmonica and some brief Seasick Steve type vocals. However, that is just a brief interlude before an Ozric Tentacles styled groove kicks in, overladen with Hammond organ and some cool guitar chords. Weston then throws into the mix the Rasta style speech of Leroy Lindo and reggae rhythms… not remotely prog but such great fun and so evocative of Summer. A bright and breezy section over the soothing sounds of waves on a beach continues the summer vibe before this fascinating journey takes rather a ‘left turn’. A more insistent synth and drumbeat is punctuated with occasional short snippets of Japanese speech by Himiko Fukaya, and the sound of a siren in the distance. The tempo and temperature increase on this hot summer night with even a hint of funk until it fades away in to the heat haze… a great mixing pot of styles and atmosphere, sweating summer through its musical pores.

The scene changes significantly as we enter a pulsing synth driven Tangerine Dream tinged Autumn, set across a thrumming drone which ebbs away. The synth riff continues with shimmering guitar chords reminiscent of Floyd’s Echoes and in the distance we can hear children counting. The guitar becomes more insistent as the drums and bass break in like a great wave and then Mike Weston spits out a lyric filled with regrets, presumably looking back at younger days filled with promise…

You’ve wasted so much time, it’s not true,
Now there ain’t a second for the things you want to do.
You’ve got a thirst for knowledge and fact,
But you blew those years that you’re never getting back.

The Floyd references are flowing in this review, but it has to be said that Weston’s voice is very similar to the often acidic tones of Roger Waters. However, this is no lame pastiche of Floyd as Weston takes each piece in very different directions, many of them far from the styles those men from Cambridge have made so popular over the years. After Weston’s brief vocal burst Autumn erupts with some fluid organ work and ululating guitars over thumping drums as the tempo and power increase in a thrilling manner and then recede as the Tangs-like synth wave resurfaces and the earlier echoing guitar chord theme is reprised to great effect taking us to the end very satisfyingly.

365 takes a predictably very different direction on Winter with the sound of a cold, bitter wind and the sound of a funeral committing a body to the grave, complete with the sound of shovels. The tolling of a church bell underlines the melancholic, chilling feel of the atmospheric sound design. This soundscape underlies David Streames’ intoning poetry, ending with: ‘For the weak, it’s just a matter of time…’ followed by the ticking of a clock over an ominous synth drone. Synths and keyboards dominate the stark musical landscape, evoking the hardness of frost and the bleakness of winter, until about halfway through. Now brace yourselves readers as here comes another Floyd reference (!!)… I do try to avoid repeatedly evoking the names or styles of other bands in a review, but I am impelled to cite yet again the obvious glorious keyboard chords in the style of Rick Wright… and do you know what? I really don’t mind drawing those comparisons after hearing such clear influences, if it is done with this much style, quality and feeling then I am all in and listening avidly – Weston seems able to use these influences with imagination and brio without sounding cliched. The accompanying instruments fall away, leaving a sole organ playing mournfully over a windswept landscape. Winter has a rather odd conclusion with a simple bass and keyboard throb over a vague frosty vocoder vocal. It is a rather peculiar coda which I am not sure adds to the piece, or at least it did not resonate with this listener. However, in just over an hour of high-quality music this feels like the only mis-step, or maybe I was just missing the point!? Winter in all honesty is the least engaging of the four pieces, but maybe that is due to the more melancholic nature of the music, reflecting the struggle of life to avoid or delay death in the hardest season?

Adult Cinema have significantly developed musically from Hot and Cold, and 365 is an ambitious project which evokes the seasons, but also more metaphorically explores and considers how we grow older. 365 is an excellent release in which Mike Weston has skilfully woven together a range of styles in a compelling set of evocative soundscapes. Adult Cinema’s latest album is imbued with imaginative excellence and definitely deserves attention.

01. Spring (15:00)
02. Summer (15:05)
03. Autumn (15:10)
04. Winter (16:07)

Total Time – 60:22

Mike Weston – All Instruments & Vocals
~ With:
David Streames – Speech on (1 & 4)
Leroy Lindo – Speech (2)
Himiko Fukaya – Speech (2)

Record Label: Illicit Recordings
Country of Origin: U.K.
Released: May 2024

– This is Your Life (2007 – remastered re-release in 2018)
– Teaser Trailer (2016)
– Hot and Cold (2020)
– 365 (2024)

Adult Cinema – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | X