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Tricky: Pre-Millennium Tension (4th & Broadway, CD/ LP/tape). After the collaborative merry-go-round of Nearly God, a new Tricky album with songs that all pull in the same direction takes a bit of getting used to. Especially now the volatile Bristolian is getting down with what James Brown might term his bad self. It begins with the murderous "Vent" (a compellingly claustrophobic tale of love, hate and hidden asthma-inhalers) and keeps right on from there. For some reason - perhaps the hope that those concerned will feel better for having got all this out of their systems - the pervasive darkness is not depressing. So what if the nearest the album gets to an explicitly up moment is a song called "Makes Me Wanna Die": if Apocalypse Now were a musical, this is what it would sound like. Ben Thompson

Lightning Seeds: Dizzy Heights (Epic, CD/LP/tape). Skinner and Baddiel have been left on the subs' bench, but there are still more people involved in Dizzy Heights than in any previous Lightning Seeds album. Terry Hall, Nicky Wire of the Manics, and Stephen "Baby Bird" Jones all help out with the songwriting, and there is a proper five-man band on board. However, the new boys can't quite scuff the sheen that tells you Broudie is producer first, pop star second: when he intones "I've gotta make some noise, I wanna shout out loud", he does so in such an equable, flutey tone that you don't believe him for a second. Nicholas Barber


Melodies Francaises. Wolfgang Holzmair/Gerard Wyss (Philips, CD only). Wolfgang Holzmair has risen to fame through German lieder recitals of unnerving intensity; if you've experienced the uncompromising, visceral depth of his Schubert or Schumann, you might find it hard to imagine how he adapts to the utterly different requirements of French melodie. But he does - not by treating the genre as lightweight, but by delivering the subtleties with the investigative delicacy of a microsurgeon who takes a human interest in his patients. Most of the disc is given to Faure, including the miraculous Verlaine sequence La Bonne Chanson in its original piano version. And the intimate ele- gance of it all extends to songs by Duparc and Ravel, which complete the programme with a beauty that won't surprise Holzmair's fans, but will shake anyone who ever thought of him as Teutonic. Michael White