DJ Tiesto (both Nettwerk America)
Delerium blends new age, pop, and electronica into lush and dreamy songs; DJ Tiesto plays slamming trance music, heavy on the dance beats and orchestral/keyboard melodies. But the discs are linked by Tiesto's stunning re-mix of Delerium's "Silence," featuring Sarah McLachlan on vocals, from its last release, "Karma," and by singer Kirsty Hawkshaw, who appears on both these CDs.
"Poem" opens to a mix of electronic instrumentation and Gregorian-style chant set to a chugging groove, and moves into "Innocente," a melodic, atmospheric song wrapped in strings with guitar and piano textures. It features Leigh Nash from Sixpence None The Richer on vocals.
Elsewhere there are suggestions of breakbeat and folk, and on "Underwater" even of dance beats, although the edges are softened by vocal harmonies. Matthew Sweet guests on "Daylight," and the disc ends with "Amongst the Ruins," an atmospheric piece that blends eclectic influences, from Asian to chant.
On "Summer Breeze" the Dutch DJ crafts a compilation of trance tunes, including several of his own compositions that show he is as adept at creating dance tracks as mixing those of other writers. Familiar cuts include Sisko's "Light Over Me," and club fave "Caught Me Running" by Jaimy & Kenny D. The disc opens to Aria's "Dido" that blends a dance beat with samples from classical composer Henry Purcell and space travel dialog - sounds weird, but it works - and continues in epic mode.
- RICHARD PATON
Various Artists (Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax)
Dare we go so far as to say this is a killer of a soundtrack? Puns aside, this soundtrack, released last month might go down as one of the better collections of Y2K for hardcore heavy metal fans. Guitars rip and amps crank up, with attitudes aplenty and a steady dose of metal and industrial muscle music, even a little goth. Hard-charging, new material with the usual dark overtones comes from a number of groups, including Powerman 5000, Pantera, and Slayer. There's also a collaboration between Godhead and controversial singer Marilyn Manson (not his group). Scary, it's not. But it rocks.
- TOM HENRY
CYPRESS HILL LIVE AT THE FILLMORE
Cypress Hill (Columbia)
This disc graphically demonstrates how different the present incarnation of Cypress Hill sounds compared to the group of the early and mid '90s. The first six tracks feature cuts from the group's early days, when their fusion of short repetitive samples, off-beat noises and sounds, Latin beats and lyrical riffs, layered atop bottom-heavy hip-hop drum tracks, was considered cutting edge. It is on "Cock the Hammer" and the next five tracks that we hear Cypress Hill's more recent incarnation as a hybrid rap/rock group. Although Cypress Hill's two sounds are drastically different, there is something for most hip-hop listeners to enjoy on the one disc to have for those who want an overview of the group's career.
- STEWART WALKER
THE ULTIMATE ISLEY BROTHERS
Isley Brothers (Sony)
Their music is inevitable, constantly floating in the air. Submitted for your approval, the Isley Brothers are back in effect. Brothers Ronald, Rudolph, and Kelly got their start in suburban Cincinnati in the 1950s. The Isleys filled out their roster in the early 1970s by adding two more brothers - Ernie and Marvin, and Rudolph's brother-in-law, Chris Jasper. When's there's talk about the most influential and long-lived musical groups of the pop era, the Isleys' name is not mentioned as often as it should be. After listening to this collection of greatest hits that includes "Shout," "Love The One You're With," "Work To Do," "It's Your Thing," "Harvest for the World," and "Summer Breeze," you have to ask yourself why.
- JOHN HARRIS
MY FAVORITE HEADACHE
Geddy Lee (Anthem)
Rush lead singer and bass player Geddy Lee uses his first solo album to offer up a supple, highly polished slab of hard rock that fills the gap nicely until the next release from his band. Working with producer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Mink, Lee combines the sound and feel of Rush with a more melodic approach. Shorn of the multilayered, heavy philosophy of Rush lyricist Neal Peart, Lee is free to record shorter songs and he even tosses in some nice ballads - something unheard of from his main band. Lee also focuses on plenty of bass-heavy, progressive rockers, including the title track, which sounds a little like King Crimson, and "Home on the Strange," a romping tale of a disaffected Canadian.
ROMANCE ON FILM, ROMANCE ON BROADWAY
Michael Feinstein (Concord)
Feinstein provides - in his piano-man voice - a guide to the works of Irving Berlin, Harry Warren, Sammy Cahn, Johnny Mercer, Ira Gershwin, and others in 22 works on two CDs which, if they do nothing else, enable the listener to finally be able to identify every word in every song. The singer applies his particular stylistic talents to each work and, except for an odd up-tempo piece or two, renders them incredibly slow, softly sung, and with a falsetto that happily does not offend the ears. However, with so little variation in style or tempo, it is difficult to sit through one, let alone two discs, for a single session of listening.
- LARRY ROBERTS