ARTO LINDSAY, Prize (Righteous Babe) "When did I empty/My empty mind?" "Make it gradual/Tone says it all." "Stay calm/Keep calm/ Let the room outgrow the

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Lindsay's Righteous "debut," Parker's Arp, and more

ARTO LINDSAY, Prize (Righteous Babe) "When did I empty/My empty mind?" "Make it gradual/Tone says it all." "Stay calm/Keep calm/ Let the room outgrow the walls." Nothing says "I love you" quite like a Zen koan. And no pop artist in recent memory has issued more of these fetchingly poetic word puzzles than Arto Lindsay. The son of American missionaries, Lindsay grew up in Brazil. He went on to help invent noise-rock with no-wavers DNA, to create smart avant-funk with the Ambitious Lovers, and to produce Brazilian heavies such as Marisa Monte and Caetano Veloso. But his recent run of bent bossa records—1995's O Corpo Sutil (The Subtle Body), 1997's Mundo Civilizado, and last year's Noon Chill—may be his grandest achievement to date. Prize, Lindsay's first album for Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe label, continues this winning streak. Halting samba rhythms and subtly gorgeous melodies dance cheek to cheek with romantic concrete poetry and oddball noises, including, occasionally, the kind of skronking guitar outbursts Lindsay is most (in)famous for. The results are disarming: Even if you don't speak Portuguese, which he employs for some songs (translations are provided in the booklet), it's clear that Lindsay sings fluently the language of love.—Michaelangelo Matos

LUKE SLATER, Wireless (NovaMute) Like his revered label-mate Plastikman (a.k.a. Richie Hawtin), Luke Slater is bald, extremely private, and devoted to Detroit techno. While the Windsor, Ontario-bred Hawtin may be able to claim geographical proximity to the Motor City and its holy trinity of techno godfathers, born-and-bred Brit Slater has managed to work similar methods across the ocean for over a decade. His 1997 opus Freek Funk had the UK press on its knees, proclaiming him no less than a techno Messiah. Inevitably, those expecting a Second Coming of sorts on his new full-length, Wireless, will be disappointed. What they'll get instead is a jubilant, somewhat scattered ode to Slater's original object of affection, electro. Opening track "In the Pocket" comes off like a joyful marriage between "Rockit" and future funk, and the feeling builds on "Sum Tom Tin," whose sound lies somewhere between early rave anthem and raucous house party (if that party were held in the Bronx circa 1989). Unfortunately, the momentum falters, and several of the tracks, mostly the later ones, feel uninspired and stale—throwaway blueprints for the record's more successful efforts. Not that the whole album looks backward; Slater pulls out enough tricks to keep the vocoders and synths from sounding too dated, and in the end, it feels more like a celebration than a rehash. Midway through, "Body Freefall, Electronic Inform" proves just that, as a drum assault sweeps in over a minute and a half into the track, coming just in time to terrorize the subwoofer of unsuspecting listeners while never losing the song's original thread. At times unabashedly simplistic and not terribly original, Wireless may nevertheless be just what some dance music fans need. For those subsisting on a heavy diet of dark, apocalyptic drum-and-bass, this fun-filled nostalgia-biscuit makes a pretty tasty little snack. —Leah Greenblatt

ANDREA PARKER, Kiss My Arp (Beggars Banquet) When you listen to Andrea Parker's Kiss My Arp, do yourself a favor and fast-forward five songs to "Melodious Thunk"—which is actually a classic Parker tune, rereleased for your listening pleasure. This way, you skip past her undistinguishable and ineffectual vocal musings and get right to the good stuff: the battered beats and bumping blips of Parker's particular brand of electro. Always edgy, always tough, and almost always good, why Parker chose to sing on tracks that stand up without lyrics isn't entirely clear. The producer's voice isn't particularly engaging (in a good or bad way), her lyrics are neither provocative nor emotional; they merely rest at the top or the bottom of the mix, mostly indifferent to the music. "The Unknown" finds Parker in DJ Rap-like repose, albeit as a darker, more mysterious figure. But Parker is more than the thinking man's DJ Rap. On Kiss My Arp, Parker sticks to the style that first brought her prominence; she produces something like symphonic electro, creating records from a pastiche of unknown noise and familiar grace, relying just as heavily on sweeping strings as she does intricate beat manipulation. Sometimes the beats plod along as if beset by a heavy burden, at others the music gets almost frisky. Still, Kiss My Arp—with or without vocals—isn't a whimsical party-people record, but rather one for the lonely open road.—Tricia Romano

RAHSAAN PATTERSON, Love In Stereo (MCA) A couple of years ago, when he was sporting a gold-streaked afro, Rahsaan Patterson released his self-titled debut, a sultry update on '70s R&B. Now Patterson's sporting a short, sleek haircut and his newly acquired polish extends to his music as well. On his latest record, Love In Stereo, he sounds determined to whip up a quiet storm amid the simmering funk; call it Music for Lovers Who Don't Usually Love Music for Lovers. Patterson's move to encompass the R&B mainstream isn't wholly unexpected; after all, he cowrote Brandy's triple-platinum seller "Baby" and Tevin Campbell's "Back to the World." Yet he embellishes even the slickest of his new material ("It's Alright Now," "Do You Feel the Way I Do") with crafty details: undeniable keyboard riffs, lofty strings, unexpected vocal arrangements, tricky rhythm changes. The record's first single, "Treat You Like a Queen," deals with an abusive relationship (the royalties are pledged to inner-city shelters) while the delicate, Stevie Wonder-ful "Friend of Mine" is a less serious take on love gone wrong. Patterson's Wonder influence remains in full effect for the groove-soaked, horn-laced "Humor," and the snappily besotted "So Right." Other highlights include the sexually charged romp "The Moment" and "It Ain't Love," which combines forlorn lyrics with uplifting music. With this well-rounded effort, Patterson confirms that the term "popular artist" isn't an oxymoron.—Jackie McCarthy

 
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