John Cale Lightens Up

John Cale Walking On Locusts (RYKO)

The Welsh avant-rocker who co-founded the Velvet Underground has released his first conventional "song" album in more than a decade. After producing plenty of other artists and writing scores of instrumental film and vocal symphonic music, Cale has come up with a light-hearted "pop" album that lives up to the best sense of the word. The sound of the album is crystal clear, the mood is easy and ironic, the rhythm swings. But still, deep inside every pleasant tune, you can trace the outline of a skeleton in the shadows ... or perhaps not. It's hard not to be haunted by Cale's history of twisted music.

Barry Adamson Oedipus Schmoedipus (Mute)

Just like John Cale, who used to play bass in the Velvet Underground, Barry Adamson, a black Mancunian, played the same instrument in Nick Cave's band, The Bad Seeds. He later turned to non-rock music forms. Since his 1989 debut album, "Moss Side Story," Adamson has written film music -- for both imaginary and real movies. The music is very eclectic, constantly switching from "film noir"-type symphonic suspense to jazzy cocktail scenes to moody electronic soundscapes to outbursts of rock energy. This also describes Adamson's latest album, but it is somewhat better: more focused, more melodic, more catchy. Plus, it includes some exclusive vocal performances from Jarvis Cocker (of Pulp), Nick Cave, Adamson and the amazing falsetto of Billy McKenzie, once of the Associates' fame.

Summit Weeding the Cliff Edge (Radar)

Ever since digital technology has become accessible to the masses, the world has been flooded by electronic aural products. Among them, very few are of any real worth -- especially when it comes to unknown musicians. This record by Summit, an instrumental duo from South Wales, is the rare exception. Avoiding the usual cliches, they create some unpredictable music that is both beautiful and ominous. I'd call it "manic depressive New Age music."

Tindersticks Nenette et Boni (This Way Up)

And now for some real film music: "Nenette et Boni" is a movie made by French director Claire Denis, and the great English Tindersticks have written some of the most tender and touching late-night music the modern mind can create. Even without the voice of Stuart Staples (there's only one vocal track on the album -- the already known "Tiny Tears") the band is irresistible: piano, vibes, Hammond organ and strange little noises and whistles warm you up, melt you down and eat you alive.

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