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[whitespace] By Michelle Goldberg (MG) and Christine Brenneman (CB)


Madonna and Blur shared a producer, the alchemical William Orbit, on their latest records, but that isn't all they have in common. Though it's much more subtle with Blur than it is with the Material Girl, the band has a similar chameleon streak, an ability to sense which way the cultural wind is blowing and change course accordingly. On their latest album, 13, they've evolved once again, creating a dark, difficult, visionary record that somewhat brilliantly merges electronic music with art rock. Orbit's production techniques lend depth to discordant white noise that might otherwise have sounded like masturbating. Melancholy and personal, 13 eschews most of the things that made Blur so attractive in the past--their biting lyrics, fey delivery and candied melodies. (MG)

Trance Mission
A Day Out of Time
City of Tribes

A somewhat category-defying album, Trance Mission's A Day Out of Time (which includes Eighty Mile Beach's Beth Custer) combines inventive organic percussion, subtle sampling and Custer's horns, chanting and didgeridoo. The result is an earthy kind of jazz that draws heavily on world music. In general, the more Custer is involved, the more compelling the song. Her wild solo on "Chasing the Moon Rabbit" makes that piece the highlight of the album. Singer Eda Maxym also gives A Day Out of Time much of its power. Her voice, mirroring the album as a whole, veers between a cool kind of spoken word, a throaty, passionate wail and an all-out trancelike reverie. (MG)

Friends of Dean Martinez
Knitting Factory Records

The latest offering from Friends of Dean Martinez serves up music that is by turns loungey, bluesy and Western but always strongly guitar-driven. Bill Elm, the genius behind the moody, haunting sounds, once again provides the listener with his signature mellow, atmospheric songs that are perfect for making out. "Otra Vez" recalls a Joao Gilberto-style guitar over a sweet bossa-nova beat that proves instantly relaxing. Likewise, the Mexican-flavored "Atardecer" combines hints of Santana with steady bongos and a sad melody to tremendous effect. (CB)

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From the April 26, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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