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[whitespace] Picks by Michelle Goldberg (MG)

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Loose Groove Records

It's too bad that the phrase acid jazz has been so used and abused, because it perfectly describes Ponga, a wildly avant-garde San Francisco jazz outfit whose hard-edged free-form improvisations sound like they're full of psychedelic studio tricks even though most of the tracks were recorded live. Much of Ponga's debut album sounds like drum 'n' bass played on old-fashioned instruments, like a Grooverider cover done on a sax, drum kit and keyboard. The electronic effects make the music accessible to those weaned on digital and turntable music, but the feel is deeply organic.

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Secret American Livingroom

How can you not a love a band with an infectious love song called "Nerdy Girl"? A dreamy lullaby with a deliciously hooky chorus, "Nerdy Girl" exemplifies everything that's endearing about the Berkeley power-pop trio Dealership. Their debut album is a little rough and a little simple, but the band's spare three-chord ear candy makes virtues of what could have been limitations. "Monteserrat," the album's best track, has a buzzing anthemic guitar reminiscent of the Pixies, and while it may seem way too trendy for an American band to sing in French in the midst of Francophile pop mania, "Monteserrat" is way too precious to be pretentious.

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Sasha and John Digweed

Smooth and melodic, Expeditions, the double-mix CD by trance and house maestros Sasha and John Digweed, unfolds in polished, surging waves and layers. Full of spacey vocal samples and cosmic gurgles that recall the bright-eyed futurism of the early-'90s rave scene, the album, especially the start of disc two, has an epic, cinematic feel. Though it occasionally veers toward corniness, even the album's overwrought moments will likely sound as ecstatic on the dance floor as they do melodramatic on headphones.

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From the May 10, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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