Jungle Beat from bowie

David Bowie Earthling (BMG)


For the third time in his varied and zigzagging career, Bowie has recorded an album of (almost) pure dance music. In the '70s, it was the disco-inspired "Young Americans." In the '80s it was the new-wave pop of "Let's Dance." Now the master has put his hands (and voice) on -- not surprisingly -- jungle beat. Far from being a hardcore rave soundtrack, the album offers a well-maintained combination of computerized rhythmic tribalism, typically Bowie-esque pop melodies and some rockish guitar arrangements. Unlike its ultra-complicated predecessor, "Outside," this new record has been stripped down to aural basics -- hence the title, I suppose. Even so, it's quite unusual and interesting. Like everything Bowie's ever done, it reflects his unique talent.





Purple Penguin De-Tuned (Cup Of Tea)


From Bristol, the world's capital for trip-hop and all of its associated dance floor decadence, come the important Cup Of Tea records, and one of their newest releases -- an album by Purple Penguin, who is a person, not a band. Louder, funkier and somewhat less depressing than the majority of Bristol's melancholia, this is nevertheless pure certified trip-hop, with all the style's enticements: slow- to mid-tempo, "sore" sound, laid-back atmosphere etc. What I like most about Purple Penguin's work is the variety of textures and moods, which sets it apart from similar records that sound like the same song is just being played over and over again, only in different (but always minor) keys. Trip-hop can be (moderate) fun, and "De-Tuned" is the proof.





Solar X X-Rated (Art-tek)


At last it's here -- the first release from the king of late-night Moscow chill-outs, Roman Belavkin, aka Solar X. The album's title and design reflect Belavkin's wicked sense of humor, but not the album's content, which has nothing to do with sex music's oohs and aahs or "bachelor pad" music's seductive orchestrations. In fact, this is a serious and innovative piece of ambient electronic music, remotely related to the works of The Aphex Twin, Plastikman and Panasonic. Plus, there's one feature that makes Solar X's sound truly unique: he plays old Soviet analog synthesizers that produce the kind of noises hi-tech could never imitate. This adds an extra layer of "cool" to the record and doesn't make it sound the slightest bit outdated or provincial. Musicians from the unlikely countries of Italy and Finland have recently made a big impression on the world's music community; hopefully, Solar X's debut will mark the beginning of a Russian presence on the scene.





Royal Crown Revue Bugsy's Moves (Warner)


An album of '30s and '40s swing and jive from a small American orchestra. It's reference points: the movie "The Cotton Club," Al Capone and Cab Calloway, and the plot from "Some Like It Hot." I just wish Russian night clubs and criminal hangouts would play this type of music instead of the disgusting mafia pop you always hear. As far as background music goes, Moscow is way behind pre-war Chicago.





Many of the CDs reviewed can be heard on Troitsky's weekly radio show, "FM Dostoevsky" on the Evropa Plus radio station Sundays at midnight.