New on CD

Friday, May 17, 2002

'18'

Moby is a musical genius.

He's convinced the masses that all techno-dance music doesn't need to be mind-numbingly repetitive. For Moby, techno is merely a framework he works within to create his own unique genre.

Moby's prodigious talents -- he plays all the instruments, mixes and produces on this, his 12th release -- make him as much technician as musician. His 1999 release, "Play," sold 10 million copies and made the former DJ an unlikely superstar.

"18" relies heavily on the funky, bluesy and soulful talents of guest vocalists, who include MC Lyte, Sinead O'Connor and The Shining Light Gospel Choir. Moby doesn't break any new ground but succeeds in meeting his own high standards set with "Play."

"Sunday (The Day Before My Birthday)" features breathy vocals by Sylvia Robinson, who laments the loss of yesterday's bright day and is particularly poignant when you learn that Moby's birthday is Sept. 11. It's preceded by the hip-hop "Jam for the Ladies," which is pure fun.

Moby's own vocals add sheer delight to three of the album's 18 tracks -- yes, that's where he got its title.

'Maladroit'

"Maladroit" succinctly describes the quintessential Weezer persona adopted by lead singer Rivers Cuomo -- the mopey but witty slacker who wails about the vagaries of love and laziness over power-pop riffs.

Fans who love this character will find him again on "Maladroit," most obviously on the tracks "Slob" and "Dope Nose." The music throughout is predictably rocking, featuring new variants on Weezer's trademark sound: thrashing pop-punk guitar lines that often resolve melodically, despite themselves. The only problem is that the music, though satisfyingly brash, doesn't push much beyond Weezer's established formulas.

'Virtuoso From Afghanistan'

The return of music to the airwaves and streets of Afghanistan after the collapse of the Taliban regime was particularly poignant, considering the rich musical heritage that country has enjoyed for centuries. Ustad Mohammad Omar contributed greatly to that heritage during his lifetime through his directorship of The National Orchestra of Radio Afghanistan.

In 1974, six years before his death, a concert was organized at the University of Washington in Seattle with the young tabla prodigy Zakir Hussain of India. This concert was extraordinary in that the two musicians shared no common language, save the universal language of music. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has released for the first time "Virtuoso From Afghanistan," a superb document of that historic concert.

--From wire reports

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