This Week's Album Releases

MADONNA | Music SUSUMU YOKOTA | Sakura
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The Independent Culture

MADONNA | Music (Warner) A few weeks ago, Julie Burchill penned an attack on Madonna, arguing that as she, La Burchill, had given up writing about pop music, Madonna, who is roughly her age, should give up making it. Devastating though this cast-iron logic might appear, Madonna has pressed ahead with the release of her latest album, anyway. Perhaps it's foolhardiness, or perhaps she just knows that she has, once again, made a record that is better than we had any right to expect. Once again, her collaborators should take a hefty slice of the credit. William Orbit, the co-producer of Ray Of Light, is back working his punk-disco magic on four tracks. But Music's real revelation is the French house doyen Mirwais, whose six tracks of clipped and kooky electronica keep Madonna right on the cutting edge. Mirwais is just as comfortable strumming an acoustic guitar as he is programming a computer. On "Don't Tell Me", he chops the rhythm into such jagged shapes you'll think there's something w

MADONNA | Music (Warner) A few weeks ago, Julie Burchill penned an attack on Madonna, arguing that as she, La Burchill, had given up writing about pop music, Madonna, who is roughly her age, should give up making it. Devastating though this cast-iron logic might appear, Madonna has pressed ahead with the release of her latest album, anyway. Perhaps it's foolhardiness, or perhaps she just knows that she has, once again, made a record that is better than we had any right to expect. Once again, her collaborators should take a hefty slice of the credit. William Orbit, the co-producer of Ray Of Light, is back working his punk-disco magic on four tracks. But Music's real revelation is the French house doyen Mirwais, whose six tracks of clipped and kooky electronica keep Madonna right on the cutting edge. Mirwais is just as comfortable strumming an acoustic guitar as he is programming a computer. On "Don't Tell Me", he chops the rhythm into such jagged shapes you'll think there's something wrong with your CD player. And on the Chemicals-esque "Impressive Instant" he drags Madonna's voice through an electronic hall of mirrors: imagine the special effects on Cher's "Believe" multiplied by 10. Indirectly, the other man who has influenced the sound of Music is Guy Ritchie. Madonna's relationship with the director has given her lyrics a new romantic flavour - although how typical of her to give a sweet tribute to him the title, "I Deserve It". Her Achilles Heel remains her tendency to sound cold and self-absorbed, but the depth and deftness of her songwriting on such tracks as "Tell Me" and "What It Feels Like For a Girl" suggest that, in her forties, Madonna is still maturing, at the same time as she's coming out with work that's as daring and contemporary as that of anyone half her age. No wonder she annoys Julie Burchill. Nicholas Barber

CARL CRAIG | Designer Music: The Remixes Vol 1 (Planet E)

Carl Craig has been one of the most influential electronic musicians of the last decade, one of Detroit's second generation of techno producers who has also been credited with inspiring the early house and jungle producers. Needless to say, he's done a lot of remixes. The nine chosen for this collection - including UFO, Incognito, BT, Inner City and Spacetime Continuum - span almost a decade and a range of genres. Almost all are radically different from the originals and they all have that unmistakable Craig personality: long gradual build-ups, deceptively complicated rhythms, luscious synths and an exciting juxtaposition of the familiar and the unpredictable. But equally, they show his versatility and each remix retains the precious qualities of the original. Laurence Phelan

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