BACK ISSUE #405

CD-Reviews

PINK
M!ssundaztood!
[BMG]

Who is Pink, the chameleon whose posing and posturing have fascinated fans and critics since her stupendous 2000 song, “There You Go.” Is she the Philadelphia hip hop homegirl of her first album, Can't Take Me Home? Or is she the in-control rocker that she shows herself to be on her new disc? Enlisting the help of veteran rock girl Linda Perry, former leader of '90s rock act 4 Non Blondes, Pink turns in a blistering 14-song outing. Standouts are the uplifting title track and the slow burn gospel of “Misery,” with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith guesting, but my personal favorite has to be the bouncy Latin vibes of “Get The Party Started.” Verdict: this is one young woman in control of her direction and destiny, both musical and, by the sounds of it, personal.


DREAMS COME TRUE
Monkey Girl Odyssey [Virgin]

DCT's ceaseless quest for overseas recognition has received a boost with their selection by Disney to contribute to the soundtrack for their blockbuster film, Atlantis. Their dreamy offering “Crystal Vine” winds up an album of new material that shows the band in a festive, emotive mood, ranging from the dramatic funk of “24/11” to the steamy soft rock of “Puraido Nante Shiranai,” and on to the ambient house of “Gomen Ne DJ,” with stops at just about every other possible genre along the way. Singer Miwa Yoshida is in divine form as we have come to expect, and her band's performance is flawless as usual. In fact, there's something almost too perfect about DCT, something that makes them sound overprocessed, as if anything faulty about them had been removed for a safe listening experience. In short, think “antiseptic.”

4HERO
Creating Patterns [Reinforced]

Excuse me for waxing lyrical, but every time British breakbeats avatars 4hero, aka Marc Mac and Dego, come out with a new album, it sits unmolested in my CD player for repeated, uninterrupted playings. Their follow-up to 1998's Two Pages refines that work's innovative fusion of drum'n'bass with jazz, spoken word and contemporary R&B, ignoring false lines drawn between “electronic” and “live” music. A number of excellent singers are deputized for vocal duty, ranging from “Soul Sista” and recent Japan visitor Ursula Rucker on the meditative “Time,” to the silken voiced Jill Scott, who contemplates the melancholy of everyday life on “Another Day.” With 4hero's Dego a frequent host of 2000black parties at Liquid Room, Tokyo may be soon rewarded by another visit by Britain's finest. Keep your eyes on these pages for the latest info.

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Stone.Scissors.Paper. O3. Paper [Play]

The third and final in Tokyo-based Play label's Stone.Scissors.Paper series continues in its mission to explore visions of dub and its electronic variants as seen by a range of worldwide contributors. Kicking off with the deconstructed dub of London-based Pressure Drop's “Metamorph,” the album journeys through the Indonesian gamelan strains of Japanese house maestro Susumu Yokota's “Secret Message,” to the spacy sounds of German artist Jiri Ceiver's “ttp.” Other artists with impeccable electronica credentials represented here include Howie B (who recently appeared at Electraglide), Fila Brazillia, and Play A&R man Jeff Hammond's own unit, Quante Jubila. For further exploration into Play label activities, check out their monthly Deck of Cards events in Aoyama, or see their website at www.playlabel.com

RICHARD BARBIERI/JAN LINTON
Cosmic "Prophets" [Kaerucafe]

As an ex-member of Japan, the first and perhaps only foreign band to dominate the domestic Japanese charts, synth player Richard Barbieri has many musical connections with this country. Not surprisingly, then, this latest release is with Tokyo-based electronic musician/singer Jan Linton. Its release from experimental Harajuku label Kaerucafe, and its marketing mainly as a sampling CD, provide some hints as to what it sounds like. Think "soundscapes" rather than songs, and indeed Tower Records has seen fit to put it in their "ambient/sound effects" section. Purely considered in these terms, the average listener will find it pleasant enough, though more discerning ambient fans might be impressed by its textures. Not a party record, but a strange grower nevertheless. An intriguing, spacy chill-out. Ian Jones