Music Record Reviews

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Oumou Sangare shows why she is one of the most significant African female musicians alive in

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It's only that guy in the coma, buried deep in that underground bunker, with his earplugs in that doesn‘t know enough to have an opinion on U2. And today, it's more likely that your opinion of the band is informed as much from your opinion of Bono as much as their music. His shtick is fundamental; Bono the politician. campaigner, spokesperson, global patroniser or baby kisser can never be extricated from Bono the rock god.

To their credit, U2 have never traded on past glories. Despite astronomical successes, they have resisted revisiting and rehashing old masters. And be sure they have enough in their attic to keep busy for years. However, having gone through three intense periods of creative fertility - War, The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby - the band are at the point where U2 is more important than any new music they might make.

You get the feeling they know this and the result is as understated as anything they've done. Moments are ethereal and bewitching - ‘Cedars of Lebanon‘, ‘Moment of Surrender‘, ‘White as Snow', ‘Breathe' and the title track - the other half is riddled with U2 cliches. ‘l’ll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight' and ‘Stand up Comedy' are as forced and corny as the title suggests, while ‘Get your Boots on’ is just, well . . . creepy. They sound like U2 trying really hard to be U2. And they miss the mark by miles.

The downbeat, reflective vibe is a welcome contrast to a preceding decade of stadia-levitating rock gargantuanness which can get exhausting with all that fist pumping vacuity - but there’s an itching feeling that this is the beginning of the end for U2. They cannot outdo themselves in scale or ambition, they are the very zenith of rock music aspiration already. They can however plateau, Dylan-style and tour forever, or just quit and start that U2 donkey sanctuary we‘ve been waiting for.

U2 were still attractive enough a proposition a couple of years back to sell iPods, but are they still fit to fill them? On evidence of this, yes, for now, but only as long as they can stop being so self-consciously U2. (Mark Robertson)


=5“ this stunning set in which she marries gutsy lyrics ahout arranged marriage and polygamy to her f3(3(ltl(_7il\.’(}ly xiooy \i'v'. ssoulou riiusic.

Sangaro's heWItching ‘.Ul(f(i‘ (lips into Il'lti'SltillIJIC layers of xyloohones. percuSSion. guitar and brass riffs played by a host of fellow Malian greats. Produced liy Nick Gold. the man responsible for Buena Vista Social Cluh. there's nice detail from key guests like Pee Wee Ellis and Tony Allen. iGreat translations and photos show the genial hotel-owning Sangare is a

staggeringly beautiful fashion statement person too.)

(Jan Fairleyl


THE INVISIBLE The Invisible (AcCidental Records) .0.

The lnvrSible; a fusion of dark funk. pop and electronics are the latest ad to rise out the London mUSic scene. Being touted as the ‘next big thing' by Radio 1 's Zane Lowe may aid their cause. but could also be the kiss of death. Produced my Matthew Herbert. their self-titled album

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showcases a trio of quite clearly talented musicians. with cuts like ‘London Girl', ‘Jacob and the Angel' and ’Monsters Waltz' standing out a mile. It's lost a shame it doesn‘t maintain the same level of fresh raw ideas across the whole album, as they‘re obviously capable of so much more. (Steve Glencross)


Various Stnctiy Erick Mon/lo (Stnctly Rhythm) The original Strictly superstar delivers three discs of underground and commerCIaI house. Classics like HCCR's remix of 'Deep Inside' rub shoulders With new tunes such as Mike Domico's remix Of “Luv DanCin'. AS always. the house master delivers aural orgasms to your ears. Votivor Tight KIT/I (Bel/a Union) Vetiver's fourthalbum is a timeless mellow- yellow tinged affair. Main man Andy Cabic subtly plucks the heartstrings with his lyrics and delivery. This disc is guaranteed to bring a little sadness and sunshine. no matter what your mood. or the weather.

Various Dark was the Night (4A0) A 2th compilation to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Red Hot Organisation. a charity that aims to raise awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS. This two-disc package boasts artists as diverse as David Byrne. Feist and Arcade Fire. A great way of doing some good.

D" Stith Heavy Ghost (Asthmatic Kitty) The offspring of a musical and religious family. DM Stith's debut album is a sumptuous soundscape of emotional highs and lows. Darkly discordant and effortlessly ethereal this is a disc that by turns hypnotises and horrifies. An example of the beast within the beauty.

Polly Scattomood Pol/y Scattergood (Mute) Pop with a dark edge. Songs featuring love. loss and suicide belie the youth of this debut from the 21-year-old from Colchester and point to Scattergood being musician with a future. When was the last time you heard the line. ‘You can spit on my French knickers'?.