/ 10,000 Hz Legend
Although filed under the electronica heading along with countrymen such as Laurent Garnier, the French duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel inhabit a dark corner of retro-pop that they have claimed exclusively for themselves. This is abundantly apparent on the much-anticipated follow-up to their acclaimed 1998 debut
Moon Safari. A space-walk atmosphere pervades the album, from the almost Pink Floyd-like track "How Does It Make You Feel," to the unforgettably mellow strains of "The Vagabond," which features lo-fi poster boy Beck on vocals. With Air' self-imposed restriction against using the same instruments that appeared on their last album,
10,000 Hz Legend sounds fresh. But with its atmospheric moodiness, it is a fitting companion and worthy follow-up to
Moon Safari. Air headline the Summer Sonic festival in August.MARTIRES
DEL COMPAS / Mordiendo El Duende
A quintet composed of musicians from Spain and Senegal, Martires del Compas demonstrate in this delayed Japan release that the merging of cultural influences is something taking place in all corners of the world these days. Terming their approach "flamencobilly" for its blending of Spanish influences with sounds from the worlds of reggae, pop and jazz, the band possesses the brio of the Gipsy Kings while injecting a note of sensitivity and subtlety into flamenco's machismo. With the expert guitar work of Julio Revilla and Manuel Soto and the inspired vocals of Chico Ocana, Martires del Compas offer one of the most devastating European acoustic music releases to appear this year.V.A. /
Stone. Scissors. Paper.
There's always room for more dub in this listener's collection, so it's a pleasure to welcome the second release in the Stone. Scissors. Paper. future-dub compilation series from Tokyo-based independent Play label. 02.Scissors raises the bar with contributions from electronica heavyweights such as New York's DJ Spooky, who heads up the album with the earth-shaking, hip-hop-dub track "If/When," and English downtempo veteran Luke Vibert, who offers the zany "I Hope So, But I Fear." Tokyo is also well represented by acts such as Dub Squad, who contribute the funky, sampladelic "The Lost Mountain," Bongoloid, whose "3-Way Blubber Ball" is the most danceable track on the album, and Play label honcho Jeff Hammond's own Quante Jubila unit, who contribute the minimalist, electro strains of "Quante Musica."
The Who may have proclaimed that "Rock is dead" 30 years ago, but a generation on, Japanese guitar pop duo Coil would beg to differ. With their third effort,
Auto Reverse, Sadayoshi Okamoto and Yosuke Sato have fashioned a voluminous, two-CD concept-album that is almost as ambitious (and long-winded) as the great double and triple albums of the '70s. Disc One reveals Coil's bright side, with songs such as the retro, Beatles-influenced "Sunflower." Disc Two exposes Coil's dark side, with brooding ballads and out-of-control mania along the lines of "Smile Again." Along with bands like Mr. Children and Tomovsky, Coil are producing some of the best guitar pop to be heard this side of the Pacific. Catch them at Shinjuku Liquid Room on June 24.
ROUGH RIDERS / Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine
If the garish cover and tricky-to-read type (were those over-educated '60s students better at reading than today's dropouts?) weren't enough of a hint, tracks with names like "Glastonbury Revisited" should make it obvious: the hippies are back. Just in time for summer too. So much easier to walk barefoot and hug trees when the sun is shining after all. The difference this time is that any connection with the psychedelics behind the Psychedelia is purely lyrical: the performances are musically tight and catchy as hell. However dark the lyrics, and "The gun isn't loaded" has some creepy stuff about pointing a gun at a girl's head, the album couldn't sound gloomy if it tried. Nothing groundbreaking this time from the Alan McGee stable (Poptones is his post-Creation baby) but some really nice jangley guitars for sunny days or days when you wish it was. Simeon Paterson