New Releases plus the Five Best Sounds of the Moment
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The Independent Culture
The Aphex Twin: Classics (R&S CD/LP/ tape). "Classics" might seem to be stretching it a bit. (What next, jungle pirate-radio gold programming?) But given the rapid turnover of new sonic sensations in the electronic mindwarp field, and the iconic lustre which gleams from Twin landmarks like "Didge-ridoo" and "Analogue Bubblebath", it is wholly appropriate that these strange luminous dribbles of sound have so quickly solid-ified into history. Also, as Mr Twin - aka crazed Cornishman Richard James - seems rather to have lost his creative momentum lately, this brain-pummelling early singles selection is a timely reminder of how much he is capable of. This music is eerie and effervescent - and also ideally suited to clearing out blocked nasal passages. Ben Thompson

Dick Dale: Unknown Territory (High Tone, CD/tape, out tomorrow). Dick Dale's life is the stuff of Pulp Fiction. After creating surf music with the Deltones in the 1950s, he retired to the Mojave Desert. In 1992 he returned to recording, and to cult status: his video was on Beavis and Butthead. Then one of his menacing tremelo guitar epics became Tarantino's theme, and he leapt to the top of the Hip Parade. Unknown Territory is a frazzled Californian beach bordering on Mexico. Dale's buzzing stratocaster thrashes and bow-string twangs of glissando are ably accompanied by explosive drums and bass, and Huey Lewis' shady harmonica. There are a few surprises, not least when Dale's deranged, phlegm-firing vocals burst in, halfway through track eight. It's one of only two songs on which he sings - the other is a top-speed "Ring of Fire". The remaining 11 are like evil versions of the Shadows. The coolest album of the year. Nicholas Barber

Del Amitri: Twisted (A&M, CD/LP/tape). Fans won't be disappointed. Twisted is another instalment of melancholy, intelligent, folk-tinged rock, with suggestions of Bob Dylan, and of Simple Minds and Stiltskin (on "Being Somebody Else"), both of whom lead singer Justin Currie despises. If you're not a Del Amitri fan, you'll find the album easy to appreciate but hard to get excited about. It's crafted and polished to within in an inch of its life: very well played, it never lets go or enjoys itself. There are passages of poetry in the cynical singles-bars anthem "It Might as Well be You" and in "Driving With the Breaks On"; and "Food for Songs" has a greasy energy. But otherwise, Twisted does seem to drive with the brakes on, and worryingly close to the middle of the road. NB

Massive Attack v Mad Professor: No Protection (Virgin CD/LP/tape). Eight songs from the fine Protection, stripped to their dub foundations and rebuilt as spacious tents. BT

The Fall: Cerebral Caustic (Permanent CD/

LP/tape). The return of Mark E Smith's ex-wife Brix ushers in the most vivacious and delightful Fall album since the one before last. BT

John Lee Hooker: Chill Out (Virgin, CD/LP/ tape). A satisfying selection of tempos and arrangements, and a voice - marinaded in the blues - that can break your heart and warm it at the same time. NB

The Smiths: The Singles (Warner, CD/LP/ tape). My Life Story, Gene and Marion may claim other influences, but this complete compilation makes it clear that their debt to Morrissey and Marr is astronomical. NB

Schoenberg: Erwartung, Kammersymphonie No 1, Variations for Orchestra. CBSO/ Simon Rattle, Phyllis Bryn-Julson (EMI, CD). Rattle proves yet again that hard-core modernism can be radiant and rewarding in the right hands. Michael White