Other Music New Release Update
March 6, 2002

In This Weeks Update:

Taj Mahal Travelers
Takehisa Kosugi
Yuka Honda (post-Cibo Matto)
Smokey and Miho (post-Cibo Matto)
Go Back Snowball (Pollard meets McCaughan)
Rocket From the Tombs
Baby Ford
Donna Regina
Songs: Ohia
"My House in Montmartre" compilation
The Boggs
Brendan Benson
And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
"Lazy Dog Vol. 2" mix

Restocked: The Notwist

Featured New Releases:

CLINIC "Walking With Thee" (Domino) CD $14.99

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A lot has been made about Clinic. They're four guys from
Liverpool. They are Radiohead's favorite band. They always wear
surgical masks. People seem to gloss over their music, which is a
real shame. "Walking With Thee" cauterizes their sound and,
indeed, is more realized than anything Radiohead or Beta Band has
done lately. By realized I mean the most compelling elements of
their sound are compounded and brought to the fore. Their pulsing,
sinister rhythms like Neu! or Surgeon, are without mercy. Each
song does not build so much as pound you into frenzy. The
clenched, spastic whispered shouts of singer Ade Blackburn are
downright propelling, and most similar to Damo Suzuki. I must say
here that fans that find Clinic refreshing should definitely check
out the sounds of Neu! And Can, because Clinic has clearly found
in Krautrock the inspiration for a truly narcotic and modern sound.
And where "Internal Wrangler" was a rolling, fluid account of
these influences, "Walking With Thee" finds the band coming into
its own, and blowing us out in the process. Never mind the
intentional references to Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love' [the bass-
line is all over this thing], Giorgio Moroder and Augustus Pablo.
This uncrackable record will definitely skip up to a top 10 or two
around these parts, and maybe with you. [DD]

TAJ MAHAL TRAVELERS "July 15, 1972"  (Showboat/Sky Station) CD  $28.99
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On a trip to New York during college I came across a copy of Roger
Sutherland's  "New Perspectives in Music" in a used bookstore
downtown. The book is a ridiculously great overview of post-Cage
streams in new music, from live electronic music to free
improvisation to conceptual sound art that is now sadly out of
print and begging to be repressed. In a chapter on electro-
acoustic music, alongside AMM, MEV and Morphogenesis (of which
Sutherland is a member), the author writes about a mysterious
collective of Japanese sonic explorers called the Taj Mahal
Travelers. The accompanying photo wouldn't have been out of place
in an Acid Mother's Temple press kit, and I had to wonder what
sort of gnostic racket these guys were responsible for. Over the
intervening years, documents of varying degrees of legitimacy have
surfaced to provide insight into the sound world of a group
practiced in balancing the meditational Om with the electrical
ohm. Over the course of its life span, TMT held site-specific
concerts in remote outdoor environments, devised immersive multi-
media events, and bewildered listeners via radio waves across
several continents. From 1971 to 1972, the Travelers carried out a
series of events across the face of Europe, trekking all the way
to India (there is a signifigant Indian influence to be found in
the group's mass of droning overtones). The CD before us is a
reissue of the Travelers' first album on CBS/Sony Japan, recorded
with an impressive array of instruments: electronic violin,
oscillators, suntool (!), harmonica, sheet iron, vibraphone,
electronic trumpet, vocals and more ring modulators than the
Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. Kosugi and company
deploy echo boxes with all the abandon of Eddie Hazel rocking a
wah-wah pedal, lending the whole session a submerged, almost dub-
like feel -- either that or Teo Macero's production of Miles'
ballads. Time seems to expand and contract as sound clouds drift
across the stereo field like colored gas in a Ben Franklin
experiment. [DHi]

TAKEHISA KOSUGI "Catch Wave"  (Showboat/Sky Station) CD $28.99
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After last year's reissue of Henry Flynt's "You are My
Everlovin'," we find ourselves in the presence of yet another mind-
elevating document of violin induced tone-float, this time by
polymath Takehisa Kosugi. Kosugi and his peers Ichiyanagi and
Takahashi led the second wave of contemporary Japanese composers
after Toru Takemitsu. Dissatisfied with restricting himself to
writing music for others to perform, Kosugi helped to form
improvising collectives such as Group Ongaku (with Yasunao Tone)
and the Taj Mahal Travelers. One of the first proponents of
Fluxus in Japan, Kosugi eventually ended up in New York at the
center of  that scene. He was to become a supporting actor in the
film that was the New York Avant-Garde, showing up at almost all
the crucial moments: performing conceptual text scores in La Monte
Young's loft, assisting Cage and Tudor in performances of their
live electronic music, and composing music for Merce Cunningham's
dance company (of which he would later become the music director).
If Kosugi hasn't been recognized for his his own brilliant work as
a composer/improviser, it's largely due to a lack of recorded
material. Besides a couple of Taj Mahal Travelers records,
appearances performing other people's work (Tudor, Behrman, etc),
and two solo disks ("Violin Improvisations" on Lovely and "Violin
Solo 1980 NYC" on P-Vine), there hasn't been much evidence to use
in measuring Kosugi's contributions to experimental music. This
makes "Catch Wave" all the more  reason to rejoice, reach for the
billfold, and drop the twenty-nine bucks for admission into
Kosugi's gossamer-lined brain box. "Catch Wave's" elegance lies in
its economy of means. He uses his violin in much the same way that
Terry Riley used the organ or Rafel Toral uses the guitar,
engaging simple electronics (ring modulator and delay unit) to
multiply a single sound source into an undulating, moire field.
Though his discography is scant in comparison to his
contemporaries, Kosugi's influence is not.  His composition ""
was performed on Sonic Youth's "Goodbye Twentieth Century," a
recording that featured Kosugi as a guest musician. Not
surprisingly, Jim O'Rourke is an avowed fan of Kosugi's to the
point that he works as an assistant to the composer in the
ensemble that accompanies Merce Cunningham's Dance Troupe. A while
back, Yamantaka Eye of the Boredoms interviewed Kosugi for
Tamago's Music magazine, which made sense considering that
Kosugi's work in groups like Taj Mahal Travelers laid the
foundation for groups like the Boredoms, especially in their
current, incarnation.  The quote on the back cover of the CD
MUSIC BETWEEN RIDDLES & SOULTIONS." Indeed. Catch the wave. [DHi]

YUKA HONDA "Memories Are My Only Witness" (Tzadik) CD $15.99
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For her post-Cibo Matto solo project Yuka Honda leaves behind
longtime partner Miho Hatori but rejoins other old friends from
the downtown scene for an intriguing yet completely unclassifiable
debut. The eleven instrumental tracks of "Memories Are My Only
Witness" are very hard to pin down -- they're electronic
compositions without being "electronica", abstract art
pieces that also work as pop songs, and beat-heavy jams that
aren't exactly dance music. Confused? Witness 'You Think You
Are So Generous' which starts off as a M/A/R/R/S-inspired, sample-
heavy excursion (complete with turntable scratching and sampled
vocals) which then falls into a Tom Tom Club-like groove only to
devolve into an amalgam of scattered drum patterns and random
Casio-tones. 'Sun Beam' is a nearly pure techno, while 'Liberation
#6' is an organic ambient piece existing somewhere between the
Mille Plateaux and Windham Hill. Over the rest of the album Honda
explores African rhthms, Brazilian sambas, avant jazz -- I think I
even heard a waltz! For all its complexity, however, the album's
best track could be its simplest --  the beautiful space-age
lullaby "The Last One To Fall Asleep With". Cibo Matto it's not,
but "Memories..." is an impressive cross-cultural hybrid. [TC]

SMOKEY AND MIHO "Smokey and Miho" (Afro Sambas) CD $7.99
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Inspired by the work of Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, Miho
Hatori (Cibo Matto) teamed up with Smokey Hormel (of Beck and Tom
Waits bands) in late 2000 to celebrate their love of Brazilian
music. Though their live sets often feature covers of songs by
Powell, Jorge Ben and other Brailizian legends, they've written
and recorded four of their own compositions for this five-track
debut EP. The standouts here are 'Blue Glasses' and 'Summer Rain',
two sultry and shimmering examples of modern-day bossa
nova. 'Nzage' and 'Orixa & Iemanja' are percussive, samba
explorations while 'Ocean in Your Eyes' sounds more akin to
contemporary trip-hop. Hatori's singing is light and wispy, her
phrasing impressive. Meanwhile Smokey and a small ensemble
accompany her with confidence yet maintain a good deal of
restraint. Refreshingly free of irony, pretense, and kitsch. [TC]

LIMP "Orion" (Morr Music) CD $10.99
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Limp is the new project of Jonas Munk (AKA Manual), along with
friends Jakob Skatt, Rasmus Rasmussen, and Jess Kahr. Limp is a
full band incorporating distorted tremeloed guitars, live drums,
synths, and bedroom electronics. Straying from the Morr Music
formula of strictly melodic electronics, Limp is slightly more
spacious  -- kind of like if My bloody Valentine and Durutti
Column collaborated with Boards of Canada and B. Fleischmann.
Six tracks, 30 minutes of music, and another essential Morr Music
release. [JS]

LAUB "Filesharing" (Kitty Yo) CD $15.99
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Laub have been a staple artist on the Kitty Yo label for some time
now, releasing two albums of beautiful German trip-hop. With this,
their third album, they seem to branch out by incorporating
elements of tech-house and IDM into the mix. Antye Greie-Fuchs has
recently collaborated with Vladislav Delay as well as creating her
own album under the moniker AGF. Where AGF was a distorted Mego
style cut-up of electronics and vocals, and her collaboration with
Delay was a two-step influenced tech-house monster, the new Laub
record is a cinematic journey into electronics not unlike Bjork or
Lali Puna. Beautiful electronics crackle and blip, melodic
synthetic strings sweep through the speakers, and crunchy beats
keep the backbone, all the while Antye's breathy vocals stand out
and draw you into each track. Laub have finally come into their
own, and created an absolutely stunning record. [JS]

GO BACK SNOWBALL "Calling Zero" (Fading Captain) CD $14.99
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I don't know if the Budweiser brewers have changed any of their
active ingredients, but Robert Pollard is more prolific than ever.
Unlike his other recent releases in the Fading Captain Series,
mostly geared toward the Guided By Voices diehards, Go Back
Snowball is a standout. Numbered seventeen in this series, Mac
McCaughan signs on as the music contributor and the results are
nothing but enjoyable. Unlike the Airport 5 recordings, Go Back
Snowball's production is crisper yet far from overcooked.
McCaughan's arrangements vary from track to track -- from
shredding Superchunk-styled guitar leads to a bigger palette of
horns, keyboards and electronic gadgetry ala Portastatic. But
regardless of whatever kind of instrumental curve Mac throws,
Pollard's should-be-patented voice nails it each and every time.

ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS "The Day the Earth Met...." (Smog Veil) CD $14.99
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At long last, a legitimate release of the much-bootlegged Rocket
from the Tombs, the mid-70s Cleveland Punk supergroup who never
were. Even if youve never heard the band (they released nothing
during their brief tenure), you may still know them. The group
featured David 'Crocus' Thomas (later of Pere Ubu), punk icon
Peter Laughner, Craig Bell, and the Dead Boys' Cheetah Chrome,
Johnny 'Blitz' Madansky, and briefly Stiv Bators. This collection
of live performances from 1975 and demos (of an album that was
never recorded) features the original (and arguably definitive)
versions of a number of future classics including Ubus '30
Seconds Over Tokyo' and 'Life Stinks', and the Dead Boys' 'Sonic
Reducer'. Rounded out with 12 more originals (with songwriting
and vocal credits favoring Thomas, but featuring amazing stuff by
Laughner, Bell and Cheetah Chrome) as well as covers of the
Stooges, Stones and Velvets, this is an essential document of mid-
west punk before the world even realized such a beast existed.
These tracks still retain much of the quirk of Pere Ubu, or
Cleveland soul mates the Mirrors and the Styrenes. Yet they rock
unbelievably, with a dark fury that would perhaps never be matched
by any of the key players. Incredible, electric, and long overdue.

BABY FORD & THE IFACH COLLECTIVE "Sacred Machine" (Klang) CD/LP $13.99/$16.99
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Peter Ford's involvement in dance music is hardly recent. In late
1988, under the pseudonym he has retained every since, Baby Ford,
he recorded the first British 'acid house' record, 'Oochie
Koochie', a monstrous, squeaky, rumbling, glorious mess of a
track. After couple of acid hits, as it were, Ford vanished from
the radar for some time, returning a few years later with his
Ifach label, which released music no one else would touch. That
music was serene, deep, heavily dub-influenced instrumental house,
emerging at the same time as the Basic Channel movement in Berlin.
Baby Ford's music is becoming more visible these days and his
spate of releases for the outstanding Klang Elektronik label have
been among his best recordings to date. "Sacred Machine" is Ford's
vision actualized. The music here is as warm and unforgiving as
the darkness, and yet it is clearly driven by a strong groove over
four sides of vinyl. This is a welcome reminder that good dance
music can be very unsettling indeed. [TH]
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DONNA REGINA "Northern Classic" (Karaoke Kalk) CD $15.99
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Donna Regina's second full-length record picks up where "A Quiet
Week in the House", their debut left off. The naivete and
innocence supposedly characteristic of childhood is a motif that
runs through Donna Regina's music. It's apparent in the cadence,
timbre, and chord changes more than in the whispered lyrics. This
effect links them to a long European romanticist, pastoral
tradition and to what Freud called the "death drive". The phrase
is much less morbid than it sounds. It simply implies a desire to
return to return to the safety of the womb. And it would seem that
Regina and Gunther Janssen make calm, oceanic music which
manifests a desire for escape from the banal and grim everyday.

SONGS: OHIA "Didn't It Rain" (Secretly Canadian) CD/LP $12.99/$10.99
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Having plodded around the Great Lakes for years, perhaps hooking
up with the Pinetops was just a matter of time for Jason Molina.
But, oh, does it sound nice. Molina, AKA Songs: Ohia, has been
producing music for over five years, and the comparisons to Palace
Music have yet to subside. Not entirely unfair, Molina's round,
brittle tenor could be mistaken at times for Oldham. But even more
so now, Molina shares vocal distinction with another Erie-based
troubadour, Jackson C. Frank. It's a compelling sound. After
traversing Cleveland to Chicago many times, Molina lands in
Philadelphia and in a collaboration with Other Music favorite Jim
and Jennie and the Pinetops. Molina's pining, sturdy folk-tales
are perfectly piqued with Jennie Benford and Jim Krewson's
lonesome sound. At times, the group recalls Low, other times Neil
Young. This mini-LP of seven songs was inspired by gospel giant
Mahalia Jackson, and its numinous songs are wholly shrouded in a
kind of ominous spirituality. [DD]
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[V.A.] "My House in Montmartre" (Astralwerks) CD $15.99
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"...Montmartre" is principally a rollercoaster document of what is
known as French House -- music which usually involves an envelope
filter and an obsession with funk's distilled ebullience (not to
mention crossover pop smarts). Opening, as this compilation does,
with the genre's most definitive statement and hugest hit,
Stardust's 'Music Sounds Better With You,' one would be forgiven
for not expecting the genre's most avant moment shortly thereafter
on DJ Falcon's even further filtering of Cassius' 'La Mouche.'
There is almost a minute or so on this piece when every
conventional element has been dropped out save an ungodly rumble
and a loop of what sounds like a wasp circling overhead, and of
course it all comes back in again, but this part is INSANE.
Likewise, Daft Punk's I Cube mix also contains an out-of-nowhere
digital insect headfuck. The Stein House remix of Air's 'Modulor
Mix' becomes, improbably, a monster jam before your very ears,
tossing down a tick-tock bounce like it was post-punk time all
over again (oh wait, it is!). Some of the cuts on here could have
benefited from a little more of this human touch, particularly as
most hinge on such funk-derived bass-lines. Though this remains
an interesting question to me since the overt artificiality of
what's occurring seems to be continually acknowledged by the
artists, and for every one misfire (Cosmo Vitelli in over his head
with original genius Benjamin Diamond's source material),  there
are at least five or six eminently palatable masterstrokes. [DHo]

THE BOGGS "We Are The Boggs We Are" (Arena Rock) CD $15.99
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To start I would like to say that I am pleasantly surprised by the
recent attention given to the "O Brother..." soundtrack, and
better yet the renewed interest in Old-Timey music in general. So
I guess I must also state that even though some might be quick to
write The Boggs off as nothing more than reactionary, it would be
wrong to do so. The Boggs are not even something as simple as
revivalist. These are all original songs that take on early
American folk recordings as an inspiration to distill and develop
into this -- a rarely seen progression -- that, yes, draws upon
the likes of Frank Hutchison, Bascom Lamar Lundsford, Roscoe
Holcomb, Skip James, and Doc Boggs. Laced with the lonesome taste
of melancholy, the lyrics tend to focus on matters of love and
death allowing the music to breathe from track to track. Varying
sounds and styles create the feel of a great compilation (which
offers evidence that The Boggs' biggest inspiration could actually
be the Harry Smith "Anthology of American Folk Music" box set).
The raw and intense 'Brooklyn Browngrass' sound is led by singer,
songwriter, and guitarist Jason Friedman assisted on most songs
with slide guitarist Ezekiel Healy, drummer Brad Conroy, and banjo
player Phil Roebuck. I have been a fan ever since the first time I
heard them on an L-train platform and now that you have been given
the opportunity, I am sure you too will become a loyal supporter
of The Boggs. [AG]

BRENDAN BENSON "Lapalco" (Star Time) CD $16.99
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Named after the main thoroughfare in Brendan Benson's childhood
town of Harvey, Louisiana, "Lapalco" is long awaited by the
handful of fans lucky enough to have heard his this pop
craftsman's overlooked 1996 debut, "One Mississippi". Many music
critics predict that twenty years from now, Benson's first album
will be rediscovered as an unearthed gem originally buried by one
of those classic record label botch-ups. Now rewind back to 2002.
Finally freed from his previous contract, Benson, with the help of
longtime collaborator Jason Falkner, has delivered another pop
masterpiece. Walking down that classic path traveled by music
forefathers like the Raspberries and Alex Chilton
-- in Benson's case there's no better road taken. "Lapalco" goes
the distance from 'You're Quiet,' which borrows the same flavored
bubble gum as the Records' 'Teenarama,' to the
bittersweet "ahhhhhhs" and acoustic strums in 'Metarie.'
Throughout, Benson's melodies are stickier than crazy glue,
holding together a perfect lyrical blend of self-effacement and
wit. [GH]

REQ "Sketchbook" (Warp) CD/LP $15.99/$15.99
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After a long residence at the Brighton label, Skint (former home
to Fatboy Slim) Req packed up his gear and signed on the dotted
line for Warp. His skidding, cracked breakbeats animated all of
his music. Req always maintained a fidelity to his alias: flying
beats that skidded into a wonderful 'wreck' by the track's end.
Thus, it comes as quite a surprise to hear "Sketchbook," an album
that in no way resembles Req's previous musical outings. Over
fourteen tracks, the breakbeat is subjected to all manner of
twisting and turning, but the pace is slowed considerably. It is
tempting to think of this as a contemplative, instrumental
breakbeat record. In other words, it's hard to imagine an MC
flowing over these beats or a DJ cutting them up. Nevertheless,
this unusual record is compelling. It wrenches looped drum breaks
from their traditional context, leaving them bare and vulnerable
to further sensory experience. [TH]
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AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD "Source Tags and Codes" (Interscope) CD $11.99
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If 2002 is the year of "the return of rock" with critically-
acclaimed bands like the Strokes and White Stripes getting MTV
play and major label record deals. Then the world better watch out
for And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and their new
record "Source Tags and Codes". This is their third full length
and their first for a major. Trail of Dead have been well known
for their explosive live performances almost always resulting in
thousands of dollars of destroyed equipment, but never seem to put
this urgency down on record; Until now! "Source Tags and Codes" is
much more cohesive than previous efforts and the big budget
production offered by a major label definitely pays off. The album
kicks off with walls of distorted guitars, pounding drums,
emotionally wrought vocals, then breaks down to a beautiful Sonic
Youth type interlude slowly building until it all culminates into
a demolition of melodies and walls of pure noise. It is all
absolutely beautiful -- highly melodic songs with sing-along
choruses and all-out distorted rock and roll with screaming
vocals. This is one record that recalls the days of yore for indie
rock. Think of the perfect follow-up to Sonic Youth's "Daydream
Nation" and you have the closest comparison. A definite contender
for "rock record of the year", and a surefire hit to be on many a
year's end top 10 list! [JS]

GRANDADDY "Concrete Dunes" (Lakeshore) CD $15.99
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It's been almost two years since Grandaddy's wonderful "Sophtware
Slump" hit store shelves, yet their follow-up album is nowhere in
sight. In the meantime, Lakeshore Records has just released a
collection of tracks that enjoyably documents this Modesto, CA
group's five-year evolution from low-fi to sci-fi. In typical
Grandaddy fashion, "Concrete Dunes" creeks off with the out-of-
print 'Why Would I Want To Die' as singer Jason Lytle's somber
melody is carried by the skeleton support of a fragile guitar
strum. It's a slow build with the next two tracks (both previously
unreleased) introducing the keyboard textures that would become
the Grandaddy stamp. The arpeggiated synthesizer that subtly
steers 'Levitz' tags the song as a passage between 1997's
rockier "Under the Western Freeway" to the ever-expansive sounds
that would soon follow.  Even at its most primitive
moments, "Concrete Dunes" portrays Grandaddy from the get-go as a
melancholy bunch of nature kids cuddling technology in a clumsy
embrace. Thrown in, however, are a few surprise rockers like the
eight-minute 'Egg Hit and Jack Too' as well as 'Kim You Bore Me To
Death' -- both driven by distorted guitars sonically fashioned
from the same angular thread that their old Stockton neighbors
left behind. In fact, with a wide range of songs and
fidelities, "Concrete Dunes" could share the same space on your CD
rack as Pavement's "Westing" -- both being catch-up collections
for newer fans who weren't lucky enough to be there from the
beginning. [GH]

[V.A.] "Lazy Dog Vol. 2: Mixed by Ben Watt and Jay Hannan" (Astralwerks) CD $19.99
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Ben Watt and Jay Hannan have been hosting the popular "Lazy Dog"
monthly party in London for a couple of years now, and they've
even brought it to New York as well. If you are familiar with
Watts' band (Everything But The Girl), you know he has no problem
with wearing his romantic heart on his sleeve. So it should come
as no surprise that this collection is filled with huge lovey-
dovey, soul-deep vocal house anthems for the purists. And God
bless them for it. This collection is a bit more pumping than
Naked Music and more vocal than Dimitri's "Playboy Mansion". But
if you're a deep house aficionado, you should enjoy this. It ain't
for everyone, but if you want your dance music funky and irony
free, Watt and Hannan gives you reason to throw that hand up,
close your eyes and sway. [JS]


NOTWIST "Neon Golden" (City Slang, Germany) CD $22.99

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After a wait of far too long (while presumably focusing on side-
projects like Console), Munich, Germany's Notwist return with a
sad and beautiful new album. Somewhat similar to their 1998
album "Shrink", the production on "Neon Golden" sounds as new as
the year, wrapping sad, tender melodies in churning guitars,
subtle, dubby drum programming, bass, strings, bubbling
electronics, woodwinds and even banjo. Marcus Acher's lonely poems
of train-rails and missed connections blend seamlessly with the
spare yet rich tracks -- sending us out on the long trip alone,
but not without a friend back home. "Neon Golden" is a record with
appeal for fans of melodic pop as well as those hungering for
cutting-edge, inventive production. [JM]

This week's contributors: Tom Capodanno [TC], David Day [DD],
Andy Giles [AG], Gerald Hammill [GH], Duane Harriott [DH],
Tim Haslett [TH], Dan Hirsch [DHi], Dan Houghland [DHo],
Josh Madell [JM], and Jeremy Sponder [JS].

The Big Picture:

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week ending March 5, 2001, use this link as a shortcut:

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