JAZZ BEN ALLISON
Peace Pipe (Palmetto) 0000
Ben Allison is a founder member of both the Jan Composers Collective and the Herbie Nichols Project. two of the most exciting developments on the 90s New York scene. His fourth album as a leader of his own groups combines a jazz quartet with the unconventional s0und of Man‘adou Diabate's kora to compelling effect. Allison's attractive Compositions allow a rich interplay of timbre and texture to unfold. with Frank Kimborough's piano and Michael Blake's saxophones and bass clarinet prominently featured. Michael Sarin is an ideal drummer for the prOJect. while Allison's own rich sOund and musical invention on the bass is always at the core of the music. (Kenny Mathiesonj
MINK LUNGS The Better Button (Arena Rock Rykodisc) .0.
Had bands like Husker Du and the Flaming Lips not got there first. Brooklyn-based Mink Lungs may have just had something with their raw mix of frenetic folk. punk and psychedelic country. Beaten to first base by the Breeders. Lambchop. Pixies and the Dandy Warhols. it's just a case of right sound. wrong time for a band that are too much the sum of their influences.
Lack of originality aside. Mink Lungs are still a band you'd want to go see live to catch their vigour. enthusiasm and sassy sense of humour shown on “Silent Sex'. a paean to outer-space intercourse.
Alien Radio (Remixed) (Soma) 0000
When Slam call on some of their prestigious mates to return remix fav0urs. you can be sure that the resultant album will be as cutting edge and varied as it comes. Thus. 12 of the best from the twin worlds of techno and house remix the shit Out of five of the best tracks from Slam's Alien Radio album.
Because they've limited the number o‘ tracks to be worked on. there's a real sense of coherence here. The same track can Surface two or three times in the mix. but because the re—iigging has been carried out with aplomb. there's no feeling of repetition. Highlights include Silicone Soul's interpretation of Lifer/lives. Narcc Tour/st from UNKLE. and the classic Positive Education from Josh Wink.
At times minimal, techy and stripped down. the album sounds like Slain are carving out a new musical vocabulary for themselves and their listeners. (Johnny Regan)
ROCK VARIOUS ARTISTS 1 2002XU
l 1 2XU) 000
In the current corporate quagmire. new |II(I(-3[)0Ii(i0flt labels are to be applauded. London-based 12XU's roster is well presented on this interesting and diverse compilation. and 12002XU highlights a label with fresh ideas and its heart in the right place. Named after a Wire song, the label's artists tend towards the Ieftfield American rock end of things. with edgy punk pop, fierce post rock and country flecked gravelly rock all being dished out in an above average fashion. Highlight amongst the tunes here is the incessant piano-led menace of Spoon's ’Soineone. Soniething'
and the bare and bitter rock of Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves' “Forget lt'.
JAZZ FOLK NORTHERN LIGHTS Airplay (Provocateur) 0..
Ja/x-folk fusions are notoriously difficult to pull off with any degree of conviction. but eclectic trombonist Annie Whitehead and concertina player Alastair Anderson come up wrth a lyrical and atmospheric variation on the theme in this enjOyable disc.
The music was originally commissoned for the Bath International Music Festival in 2001. and the joint leaders composed a series of tunes that reflected a multifaceted understanding of both folk and jazz. and a few other things besides. Fiddler Chris Stout. guitarist Ian Maidman and drummer Liam Genocky — an ideal choice for this project — contribute their own expertise and ideas to the music.
Yusa Yusa (Tu/iii MUSIC) Bittersweet tales from Havana from this yOung female singer songwriter. Fatso Jetson Cruel and Delicious (Rekords Rekords) ZZ Top-isms abound in this American desert stoner rock from Josh ‘Oueens of the Stone Age' Homme's label.
Various Artists The Guru OS T l/s/and) A melange of pop pap and classic dance—arouan your-handbag numbers to soundtrack the sappy shagging comedy. Pulse Ultra Hear/space (Warner‘s; New nu metal. premiered at this year's O7/fest. from across the pond.
Atomic Kitten Feels So Good (Innocent) A second dose of sickening scouse ned- pop. Buy your children Slipknot CDs. please.
PS2 FREEKSTYLE (Electronic Arts $339.99) OO
Following the success of SSX. it was only natural that EA should export the idea of big tricks. radical riders and exaggerated tracks over to other sports. But. like a cheap thong. you can only stretch an idea so far and the Super Motocross angle of FreekSty/e stretches it eye—waterineg taught.
The bikes don't handle so good. the tricks are limited and fiddly. and. while the tracks are certainly outrage0us. they never quite feel sturdy or meaty enough to excite. And those are just the main gripes. There are a mountain of other niggles. Such as poor opponent Al and dodgy collisions. that add up to a hand- cramping (‘lisappointment of a game. Like that cheap thong, Freekay/e famin pedigree cannot cover the extra flab that will quickly irritate and ultimately expose the lack of any long- term enjoyment held within.
(Crave 5229.99) 0..
Now this is a good idea. Control a group of fledgling superheroes as they rid tlir) s;tr(>()ts; ()f (1H manner of nasties while gaining public recognition. their righteousness drawing more superheroes to their cause along the way.
All knickers and no fur in Freekstyle
Force is exemplary. The rIdICUIOUS SOs Ianguage.gansh costumes. black-and- white morals and world-threatening masterminds scream from the screen. drawing you into the world of Minuteman and his band of crime- fighters.
But the psuedo-BD world that they inhabit. combined with some clumsy control methods. often cause bigger problems than any fiber-villain. Which is a real shame. as everything else is superslick. The constant increase in powers. the ability to design your own hero and the unfolding plot all feel so right. If only guiding your gang of goodness was not such a chore. Here's hoping that there is a Freedom Force 2 because. as any geek can tell you. superhero comics only get better over time.
THE SUM OF ALL FEARS (Ubisoft $14.99) .00
Tom Clancy must be raking it in. Not only does he sell a bargain bin's worth of books every day. those books are snapped up for movies and now the movies are spawning their very own games. all with his name at the top. The latest cross-
genre entertainment package is The Sum of all Fears. movie and game hitting our wallets at the same time.
The game is really only 11 more Rainbow Six missions. with nothing new to add to the likes of Ghost Recon or Rogue Spear. In actual fact. the environments feel a little plainer than previous titles. hinting at a get—it-out gold rush to cash in on the movie. Still, they are moderately enjoyable while they last and at a penny less then 5.715. complaints about brevity would be churlish. You pay half price. yOu get half a game.
PC ISIUDDEN STRIKE (cov $29.99) on
The original Sudden Strike was something of a cult hit on the net. Its real time strategy battling with WWII weaponry really hit the spot and guaranteed it a long shelf life. So here comes number two to update the series. bringing more killing machines to bear. more maps to obliterate. more missions to conquer and generally keep the good name of Sudden Strike on a high.
Unfortunately. SS2 often falls on that last point. Sure, all the extras are impressive. all the new graphics. units and sounds bring a smile to the face, but the gameplay itself seems to have taken a shrapnel hit. The interface is clumsy. grouped units are sometimes a little stodgy in their response and getting around the map can hurt the head. But if you stick With it the detail is fantastic and if it does half as well as its predecessor. there will be many thousands of bedroom generals looking to take you on.
534$) Sep 901)? THE LIST 107