ARTS: RECORDS

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The Independent Culture
Nearly God: Nearly God (Durban Poison/Island, CD/LP/tape). The inside of Tricky's head might not be somewhere you'd want to put down roots, but it's a great place to visit. Whatever the mystic Bristolian does to dramatise his distinctive pop presence - painting himself silver, posing as Jesus on the front of a London listings magazine - he can never look as strange and fantastic as he sounds on the extraordinary "Yoga" and the exquisite "Black Coffee". Exhilarating and claustrophobic in equal measure, this compelling cycle of duets and trios, featuring Tricky's muse Martina and distinguished guest vocalists Neneh Cherry, Terry Hall, Alison Moyet and Bjork, virtually defines its own genre: cyberpunk chamber music. Ben Thompson

Various Artists: Logical Progression Vols 1&2 (Good Looking/FFRR, CD/LP/tape). "Life moves pretty fast: if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." The sampled voice which makes that simple observation early on in this spring-heeled, summer's-coming drum'n'bass selection knows exactly what it's talking about. Good Looking records supremo LTJ Bukem is most widely venerated for his DJ residency at a London club-night called "Speed", but as with Goldie's Timeless album, there is much more to this music than headlong momentum. Yes, ripples of energy do course straight out of the speakers and into your bloodstream, but it's the new contemplative spaces that it opens up in your brain that are truly invaluable. BT

Bob Mould: Bob Mould (Creation, CD/LP/tape). Still missing Nirvana? Garbage and the Foo Fighters not quite filling the gap? You need Bob Mould. After influencing every American indie band with Husker Du, and reminding them how it's done in Sugar, Mould has gone solo again. And I do mean solo. He wrote every song and played every instrument on this album, then produced it and designed the sleeve art in his spare time. Thus liberated - he has always preferred his demo tapes to the collaborative end-products - he has hit on a satisfying number of variations on the grinding rock theme, with more instrumental shading than on some of the group efforts. The lyrics are pretty much one shade, though, and it's a dark one. Anguished, angry, soul- searching, but always intelligible and intelligent, they help to make this Mould's best record since Copper Blue. Nicholas Barber

Terence Blanchard: The Heart Speaks (Sony, CD). Glorious, sadder than sad, Brazilian ballads by pianist and singer Ivan Lins, glossily arranged as a feature for Blanchard's weeping trumpet, whose plangent air of melancholy wells up into numerous tearful solo interludes. Phil Johnson

Ludwig van Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte and Other Lieder. Peter Schreier, tenor; Andras Schiff, piano (Decca, CD). Deeply pondered yet more naively illustrative than Schubert's, Beethoven's lieder are masterpieces of the genre that are too often overlooked. This fine disc contains all the important songs: "Adelaide" is touchingly innocent; "An die ferne Geliebte" is calculatedly moving; and the "Song of the Flea" is a Beethovian joke that actually comes off. At 61, Schreier's voice is harder-edged than formerly but he is a great tenor and his German is a joy to listen to. Andras Schiff is a partner of dreamlike musicality. What more can one ask? Dermot Clinch

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