Diffusion Rools

Dud of the Month

The Intercontinentals
Jazz sophisticates who long ago followed Frisell into the fog won't gainsay his groove at this late date. Swing isn't on his product list, and as for swing's West African or Brazilian equivalents, isn't that what now-Parisian percussionist Sidiki Camara and now-New York guitarist Vinicius Cantuária are on board for? Hardly. They're there for color. Frisell cares about color the way Sigur Rós cares about color, and if his hues are somewhat brighter, he doesn't have Iceland for an excuse. Every once in a while a drone or pattern emerges, reminding me of what I treasure most in "world music"— articulated rhythm. Then he gets some tech genie or steel player to throw on another synth substitute and it's back to the miasma. B MINUS


Decoration Day
(New West)
First six songs are perfect—incest, elopement, foreclosure, and "Hell No, I Ain't Happy" from main man Patterson Hood, Stones song of a bitterness that passeth superstar understanding from second banana Mike Cooley, and young Jason Isbell hitting the road with his dad's blessing: "Have fun but stay clear of the needle/Call home on your sister's birthday/Don't tell them you're bigger than Jesus/Don't give it away." Without fussing over bridges and such, they treat their job like a calling—verses are packed with stories they need to tell and choruses ring out with why. The intensity wanes as they mull two suicides and several busted marriages, at least until a hard-rocking dirge about a feud brings the title into focus. But throughout they succeed in rendering Southern gothic as social realism. Somebody tell Charlie Watts jazz is for hobbyists. A MINUS


(React import)
The third and reputedly best of Algerian-born London restaurateur Momo's world comps, this Maghreb survey has its quirks. Up-to-date though it must be, it leads with "N'Sel Fik," the definitive rai classic since Chaba Fadela and Cheb Sahraoui released it 20 years ago. It also leans on Cheb Khaled's arty 1988 crossover Kutché, and in general starts roots and goes soundtrack as if that's progress. Which for Momo it is. On London DJ Hamid Zagzoule's terrific 2001 Tea in Marrakech (with which this CD shares a great hit by a Spanish nanny from Sudan), North African authenticity redounds to preservationists with an ear for the hooks every old culture recycles. Momo is drawn to diffusion. Natacha Atlas is fine with him, ditto the arranged marriage of Cheb Mami and Nitin Sawhney. And since in London up-to-date means dance music, dance music it will be—Moroccans jarring Egyptian shabi toward electronica, theories of trance merging like record labels, an ethnotechno excursion named "Ford Transit." A MINUS

Additional Consumer News

HONORABLE MENTION: Sidestepper, 3AM (In Beats We Trust) (Palm): English DJ runs Colombian salsa through Jamaican dub—spare, soulful, beats first ("Deja [Mary]," "In Beats We Trust"); Ugly Duckling, Taste the Secret (Emperor Norton): clever, nerdy, well-put alt-rap propaganda trumped by imaginative, disgusting, facetious vegetarian propaganda ("The Drive-Thru," "Opening Act," "I Wanna Go Home"); Anthology of World Music: The Music of Afghanistan (Rounder): the old wisdom—not exotic, just many shades of different ("Chant From Azerejot," "Song of Kataran"); Ballago Thione Seck & Raam Daan, Allo Petit (Djoniba): authentic Senegalese mbalax, high-powered but resistant to export ("Allo Petit," "Abibatou"); Gotan Project, La Revancha del Tango (XL): Astor Piazzolla goes ambient ethnotechno inna musette style ("Queremos Paz," "Triptico"); Adrian Sherwood, Never Trust a Hippy (Real World): mates ambient and beatwise so deep down they almost procreate ("No Dog Jazz," "Boogaloo"); The Rough Guide to the Music of Turkey (World Music Network import): folklorically atmospheric because that's what it means to be (Belkis Akkale, "Bendeki Yaratar"; ÜmitSayin, "Ben Tabli Ki"); Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham, L'Avventura (Jetset): murmured joke throwaways and covers from nowhere, casually tuneful and willfully slight ("Threw It Away," "Ginger Snaps"); Maria Muldaur, A Woman Alone With the Blues (Telarc): Peggy Lee's boîte sex becomes Maria's juke sex—drawled, growled, vamped, and moaned ("Fever," "I Don't Know Enough About You"); Tony Allen, Home Cooking (Comet/Virgin/Narada World): he makes good drummer's records, and I haven't heard a great one since early Tony Williams ("Home Cooking," "Kindness"); Enrique Ferrer, Buenos Hermanos (Nonesuch): at 76, finally an official pro, with Jim Keltner the proof ("Boquiñeñe," "Buenos Hermanos"); Cesaria Evora, The Very Best of Cesaria Evora (Bluebird): if it was, no one would know, but juicier than average ("Sodade [Remix]," "Sangue de Berona"); Buddy Guy, Blues Singer (Silvertone): still more real folk blues—no, more than that even ("Moanin' and Groanin'," "Lucy Mae Blues"); Gogol Bordello, Voi-La Intruder (Rubric): New Yorkers to the Slavic bone ("Greencard Husband," "God-Like"); Steely Dan, Everything Must Go (Warner Bros.): dying in stereo, nothing left to say ("Slang of Angels," "Things I Miss the Most"); Cesaria Evora, La Diva Aux Pieds Nus (Windham Hill/BMG Heritage): she wasn't young in 1988, but she was younger, and the lightness of her voice carries the strings if not the horns ("Bia Lulucha," "Destino Negro"); John Mayer, Room for Squares (Aware/Columbia): lyrically, "She keeps a toothbrush at my place/As if I had the extra space" sure beats Norah ("No Such Thing," "City Love").

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