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Music Picks

[whitespace] Picks by Michelle Goldberg (MG) and Simone Stein (SS)


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Barely Breaking Even Sampler
VA
BBE Records

The warmest, funkiest, most uplifting compilation I've heard in ages, the Barely Breaking Even Sampler is a collection of British club tracks that's as rich in soul and song craft as it is delicious, insinuating beats. Beginning with Starvue's amazing "Bodyfusion," a moody reinterpretation of '70s funk replete with melodramatic strings and Barry White-style vocals, the BBE collection is a journey through jazz, soul, hip-hop, house and Latin music, all with a distinctly British Northern Soul flavor. The album is united by generous emotion, ear-candy melodies and rapturous singing--every other band on the album sounds like it could be the next M People. Forget the much-hyped garage trend--this passionate neo-disco music is the true alternative for those alienated by the punishing tempos and raging darkness of other cutting-edge dance music. (MG)


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Om Lounge
VA
Om records

Though it came out right before the holidays, this lulling collection from the brilliant local electronic music label Om is the perfect companion to a lazy, melancholy San Francisco February. Featuring local stars like Eighty Mile Beach, Mark Farina and J Boogie's Dubtronic Science, Om Lounge is slow and soothing, yet interesting enough that it rarely fades out into the kind of easy-listening tedium that often plagues chill-out records. Highlights include a gorgeous, haunting version of Eighty Mile Beach's "What We Did Last Summer," Pilgrims of the Mind's hypnotic electro "Nothing Can Pull Us Apart" and Julius Papp and Dave Warrin's lovely "Echoes of My Mind." (SS)


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Artifakts
Plastikman
Novamute

It's a measure of how quickly the electronic music scene mutates and reinvents itself that the latest album by Richie Hawtin (a.k.a. Plastikman) could inspire such nostalgia for the good ol' days of, say, 1991. A perfectly crafted piece of sophisticated Detroit techno, Artifakts is icy, beautiful and retro-futuristic--meaning that years ago this is what we thought the future would sound like. Filled with insinuating synth melodies and spare, hypnotic beats, Artifakts will move your head as much as your body. Listening to it on headphones, the waves of sound ricochet through the brain in way that can only be described as psychedelic--the frequencies on "Hypokondriak" are so mind-warping they literally could induce either a trance or a panic attack. (SS)

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From the February 1, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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