CD reviews: Feb 23

Pop | World | Jazz

Sebastien Tellier, Sexuality (Lucky Number) £10.99

French DJ Tellier's third album is apparently a 'musical statement of intent for lovemaking'. But those expecting a dose of musical Viagra will be sorely disappointed. Barring the odd orgasmic groan, Sexuality is an exceptionally polite collection of electro-disco that forgoes sleazy stylings for pristine beat-making and pretty, swirling synths. With obvious nods to Serge Gainsbourg, Jean-Michel Jarre and Air, the whole thing teeters on the brink of Gallic pastiche, while Tellier's whispered, come-hither vocals fall flat. In fact, only slow-burning techno instrumental 'Sexual Sportswear' generates any real heat. Hugh Montgomery

Beach House, Devotion (Bella Union) £10.99

Baltimore duo Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand summon organ, keys and guitar to deliver an ethereal dreamy sound with a religious quality befitting this album's title. An almost seamless extension of 2006's debut, there are no surprises here, even on Daniel Johnston cover 'Some Things Last A Long Time'. Comparisons with Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500 have been made with good reason, and standout track 'Gila' sees Legrand channelling a spaced-out Marc Bolan. To conjure this otherworldly sound is impressive, but the lack of variation in tempo and atmosphere makes sustaining interest for a full 45 minutes difficult. Katie Toms

Toumani Diabate, The Mande Variations (World Circuit) £12.99

Over 20 years, Mali's Diabate has established himself as the pre-eminent master of the kora, west Africa's 21-string harp. Some records have honoured kora traditions, others have been bold collaborations. Here he resumes a solo role, playing rhythm and melody lines and adding dazzling extempore cascades. Eight tracks include age-old laments and love songs, while a brace, like his tribute to the late bluesman Ali Farka Toure, are improvised. Beautifully recorded, the results lie somewhere between a Ravi Shankar raga and a Jimi Hendrix acoustic jam, a blend of stateliness and exuberance. Neil Spencer

Horace Silver, Live at Newport '58 (Blue Note) £12.99

Recently discovered in the Washington vaults of Voice Of America, and unheard since its original broadcast, this live session from 1958 catches Silver's classic quintet at a triumphant early point in its long career. For sheer exuberance this band took some beating, and Silver's catchy tunes never seem to pall, but especially fascinating here is the presence of trumpeter Louis Smith. A superb player, who might have been as big a name as any in hard bop, Smith disliked the rough and tumble of touring and soon retired to teach music in Atlanta. I wonder if he has any regrets on hearing this. Dave Gelly

Radar Bros, Auditorium (Chemikal Underground) £10.99

Radar Bros are a band seemingly oblivious to musical trends. In the 12 years since their eponymous debut, a period that has seen musical dynasties rise and fall, the Los Angeles four-piece have released what is essentially the same album a further four times. And a very lovely album it is, a timeless combination of Brian Wilson influences and drowsy country-tinged guitars, flecked with piano and proceeding at the pace of a maturing whisky. On early listens these songs can sound featureless and soporific. But given time, subtleties of mood and melody emerge, and their charms take hold like a benign drug. Ally Carnwith

Los Campesinos!, Hold On Now, Youngster... (Wichita) £10.99

What is it about Western civilisation that makes pop music our prime ideological battleground? Like leathery Japanese soldiers fretting on a Pacific islet, a very old war is still raging at Los Campesinos!' Cardiff HQ. This seven-piece band are true indie believers, in thrall to C86, Huggy Bear and the scene spawned 20-odd years ago in Olympia, Washington, capital of the International Pop Underground. While there is much to admire in Los Campesinos!' wordy, pell-mell shakedowns - not least the vivacious interplay between shouty-boy Gareth and cooing-girl Aleks - this insular debut is banjaxed by its own bunker mentality.Kitty Empire


Kitty Empire, Ally Carnwath, Hugh Montgomery, Katie Toms, Neil Spencer and Dave Gelly

The GuardianTramp

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CD: Sébastien Tellier, Sexuality

(Lucky Number)

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22, Feb, 2008 @12:18 AM