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The Independent Culture
Cibo Matto: Viva! La Woman (Blanco y Negro, CD/LP/tape). How can two Japanese women whose name is Italian for "food madness" have made the year's coolest and most sonically beguiling record? It probably has something to do with samples from Ennio Morricone, Duke Ellington, Paul Weller and Machito and his Afro- Caribbean Cuban Jazz Ensemble. Equally vogueish are the trip-hop beats, lo-fi distortion and pop songs that are sometimes hypnotic, sometimes noisy. In short, a stew of the Beastie Boys, Portishead and Shampoo. Except with a Japan-ese accent. And with songs that are all about food. Nicholas Barber

Cassandra Wilson: New Moon Daughter (Blue Note, CD). The follow-up to Blue Light Til Dawn is also bluesy, folky, acoustic singer-songwriter stuff - and very effective it is too. Wilson's own songs stand up well next to Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" and Hank Williams's "I'm So Lone- some I Could Cry", with the whole borne along on the bare wires of guitar, fiddle, pedal steel and string bass. Phil Johnson