RINOCEROSE, Installation Sonore (V2) For dancers, "acid" refers not to phased, overdriven rock 'n' roll but to anything made with a Roland TB-808 bassline synthesizer,

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Rinocerose, Blond Redhead, and more.

RINOCEROSE, Installation Sonore (V2) For dancers, "acid" refers not to phased, overdriven rock 'n' roll but to anything made with a Roland TB-808 bassline synthesizer, the source of the woozy, squiggly, shape-shifting riffs that power club classics such as Josh Wink's "Higher State of Consciousness" and Hardfloor's "Acperience." But for those of us who love guitars and clubby beats in equal measure, a riff-based merger that avoids the bullyboy attitude of big-beat has been long overdue. So, when halfway through "La Guitaristic House Organisation," the first cut on Installation Sonore, Montpellier collective Rin��breaks the song down into a duel between a squawking 303 and a Funkadelic-style riff, it is to rejoice. Rin��s modus operandi is to build their beats around guitar riffs and textures, not the other way around—and, damn, why didn't anybody think of this before? After all, if the French can't rock (and they can't), they should do something with their guitars, right? Of course, the beats predominate Installation Sonore; it feels more like a house album with six-string flavoring than a rock album with beats, in no small part due to the bountiful basslines and sonic sweetening. But Rin��are tough-minded enough that even the flute solo of "Sublimior" is guttural rather than wispy. In other words: At long last, acid house!--Michaelangelo Matos

BLONDE REDHEAD, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons (Touch and Go) By now, ya either hate Blonde Redhead or ya love 'em. They're five albums into the game, and twin Italian brothers Simone (the drummer) and Amedeo (the singer/guitarist/bassist) Pace and Japanese singer/guitarist Kazu Makino aren't about to alter the variously shrill and seductive sound they adapted from the noisy no-wave movement, the hallmark of their adopted hometown of lower Manhattan. For the unconverted, hearing Kazu's indiscernible ranting in the frantic "Mother"—comparable to the screams of a small child tumbling around in a clothes dryer set to "fast"—will quickly reassure one's dislike of Blonde Redhead. And fans will wonder: Is Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons a must-have addition to the trio's catalog? Does it rock as hard as 1995's La Mia Vita Violenta? Does it embrace whimsical experimentation as artfully as 1998's In an Expression of the Inexpressible? The answer's not easy, but then nothing is with Blonde Redhead. I'm a sucker for Amedeo's pained vocals; he conveys a sort of "Life's tough enough as it is without having to sing in a second language" aura. And I like that the band's become even more obtuse, as the title and electro-instrumental interludes like "Ballad of Lemons" would suggest. But aside from all that, I'd recommend Melody for its glowing highlights: A clever back-to-back song suite with Kazu singing "Hated Because of Great Qualities" and Amedeo singing "Loved Because of Great Qualities," the jagged and nervous "Melody of Certain Three," the new wave pop hit "This is Not," and the guitar-drenched, rhythmically playful "A Cure."—Richard A. Martin

DWAYNE WIGGINS, Eyes Never Lie (Motown) Where do you go from the top? Not only was Dwayne Wiggins one-third of the hugely successful Tony Toni Ton鬠but the group's last album, 1996's House of Music, was possibly the best R&B album of the '90s. Yet Eyes Never Lie finds him rebounding in fine form. "What's Really Going On (Strange Fruit)," about the singer's harassment by Oakland cops (he's currently suing the city's police department), is an elegant protest song that nicely interpolates the Billie Holiday classic of its subtitle, and "R&B Singer" is slyly humorous: "You can call me what you wanna," he sings, "Let's get one thing straight/I'm not the average little, nasty little R&B singer." Though there's plenty of beats here, the music is centered around Wiggins' fluid guitar: Burnished obbligatos, hard-rocking embellishments, acoustic fingerpicking, and chunky funk chording decorate everything, and touches like the amplifier hum of the brief solo instrumental "Tribecca" point up the album's relaxed, homemade feel. And though the sappy "Let's Make a Baby" and an encore of "What's Really Going On" featuring treacly smooth-jazz saxophonist Najee won't make him any fans outside of quiet-storm radio, Wiggins' intimate vocal style, with frequent doses of his starry-eyed falsetto, works wonders on gorgeous slow ones like "Don't Sleep."—Michaelangelo Matos

SALARYMAN, Karoshi (12 Inch/Parasol) Cynically speaking, Salaryman's Karoshi is the sound of a traditional rock band (in this case, veteran Champaign, Illinois, punk poppers the Poster Children) getting self-consciously modern and conceptual. Forget lyrics, songs, and the holy rawk; please welcome analog keyboard soundscapes, grooves, and heavy worship at various Krautrock altars. And comparatively speaking, the new gospel has certainly freshened up their approach, as it would any band that's grown a little tired and pale, progressing only minimally past their once-shining promise. As far as I'm concerned, most, if not all, thirtysomething indie-rockers should at least flirt with a sampler, stroke a mixing board, and attempt to hump a Moog, instead of mindlessly unleashing yet another mediocre load unto the community. And the quartet's secondary dabbling in the basement to fight off creative stasis is extremely commendable. But, critically speaking, there's little here beyond sudden moments of abstract groove that's worthy of a wholehearted recommendation. Especially annoying is the lumbering, propulsive beat-keeping that mistakes a drum-kit breakbeat avalanche for cool metronomic drive, shattering moments of chill-out mystery in much the same way Trans Am are too fond of doing. Which leaves Karoshi as a more than adequate distraction, but not really much to speak of.—Peter Orlov

 
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