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Future 3
We Are the Future 3
Future 3

Ambient (hipper New Age wallpaper Muzak to these ears) has never really graduated past the musical lunatic fringe in the beat-conscious U.S. In Europe, where the kids are always on the hunt for what's perceived as artsy, the form has precipitated a quiet storm. With We Are the Future, a cocky Danish unit calling itself Future 3 aims to move into Tricky territory. Notwithstanding its boastful title, the music in these grooves is nothing special. You've got your palpating synths and plangent keyboards, the odd synthetic percussive thrump and ... well, that's just about it. Not that Future 3 is hard on the ears--far from it. It's just mechanical: beats-by-numbers. Still, technophiles, post-postmodernists and even Deadheads might get a blip out of this disc. Me? I'm with Johnny Lydon: I see no future in it. (Nicky Baxter)

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Raise the Pressure
Warner Bros.

Just as the name implies, Electronic pumps out the brisk techno-pop that fuels clubs and high-school dances. Throbbing, freak-me beats are countered by ethereal orchestration and looping, layered synthesizer programming. The tireless woofer and haunting female vocals of "Dark Angel" are reminiscent of material spawned by techno kings Real McCoy. But lest Raise the Pressure's techno treats become too intense and repetitive, generous portions of old-school pop tunes are included. In such instances, Electronic creates modern rock as we understood it in the '80s: simple beats, pretty melodies, vocals with British accents and guitars devoid of feedback. It's good to see Johnny Marr's collaboration with Bernard Sumner (New Order) has rid him of any lingering dourness from his time with the Smiths and The The. Raise the Pressure is exuberant, excitable and, well, electronic. (Bernice Yeung)

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Sergio Salvatore
Always a Beginning

A pianist who has been listening to a lot of Chick Corea's feather-light acoustic sides (while picking up Keith Jarrett's histrionics), Sergio Salvatore, at 15, is already a minimonster. Always a Beginning is his Concord label debut. Joined by bass phenomenon John Patitucci and drummer Peter Erskine (latter-day Weather Report) this disc traverses traditional jazz, that is to say pre-bop, with breezy aplomb. A fan of Cole Porter and Henry Mancini, Salvatore's no snob. His "Love" stutter-starts and then, goaded into action by the rhythm section, is off to the races. At that point, however, Salvatore is not intimidated; while he's breaking off right-handed runs that could permanently impair your average digits, he is also making like a singer with those self-same fingers. And, while he's not there yet, Salvatore's own compositions, including the title track, show promise. (NB)

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Box of Hair

Longtime Cub fans will find Box of Hair a difficult album to enjoy. Sprouting claws and shedding fur, Cub wants to "take off this party dress and go to bed for a thousand years" ("Pillow Queen")--an apt statement. Box of Hair attempts to bury the "cute" stereotype dogging the Vancouver trio since the jangle-heavy Betti-Cola. Vocalist and bassist Lisa Marr goes gruff, and guitarist Robynn Iwata favors distortion-heavy open chords to bar chords. Glimpses of Cub's melodic pop past linger inside "Magic 8 Ball," "Main and Broadway" and "Pillow Queen." "Freaky" and Lisa G.'s slightly hysterical--not in the funny sense--vocal treatment on "Not What You Think" crack at the candy shell. They should call themselves Bear already and get it over with. (Todd S. Inoue)

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