RECORDS / Rock

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The Independent Culture
Dinosaur Jr: Where You Been (Blanco Y Negro 4509 91627). Not for nothing did these people once cover Peter Frampton's 'Show Me the Way'. The icy blasts of guitar which shake these 10 songs to their very foundations had their origin in the Siberian talent-wastes of the mid-Seventies. What separates this band from retro-rockers such as the Black Crowes is their purely Nineties mind-set. Dinosaur Jr's achievement is to translate a lifestyle of studied indifference into sounds of real depth and grandeur. Strings and timpani bring a new and memorable orchestral sweep to songs such as 'What Else is New' and 'Not the Same', and the cracked languor of J Mascis's voice repeatedly goes beyond self-parody to end up somewhere fresh and lovely. The man's credibility as a renaissance sloth has diminished somewhat in the course of a promotional schedule that would have exhausted Madonna, but his musical star shines as brightly as ever.

Ragga for the Masses (Multitone/BMG DMUT 1236). The Bhangramuffin or Bhangragga fusion, of which Apache Indian is currently the chief exponent, has been germinating away underground for some time. This compilation, the first fruits of a promising union between top British Bhangra label Multitone and multi-national BMG, shows it to be more than just a simple case of mix and match. Alongside the music's intertwining Punjabi and Jamaican roots there are other trace elements - house music and Seventies Brit-pop for example - nourishing a weird and compelling hybrid. The opening number, Harlow-based Sasha's 'People of the World', has the slightly queasy excess eclecticism of an Israeli Eurovision song contest entry, but her next contribution, the anthem-like 'Here Come the Hindustanis' has a much rougher feel to it. And it's the hardness amid the candyfloss - the kernel of severity at the heart of Bindsri's delirious 'Take Me Higher' - that makes you look forward eagerly to the imminent individual projects of the three artists featured here.

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