Taken together, at a total running time of well over two hours, these two discs are way too much vibes for your standard Nineties person. But if listened to in moderation, and administered while lying down -- preferably not alone -- Ayers is right on the money.

By Steven Almond

Deep Forest
(550 Music/Epic)

On their 1993 debut, world musicologists and ambient-techno Gumps Michel Sanchez and Eric Mouquet -- the creative duo that is Deep Forest -- expounded the rhythmic virtues of pygmies and rain forests using tribal music from Zaire, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. Now, two years and a gold record later, and after bounding from Transylvania to Bulgaria to Japan, Sanchez and Mouquet have created Boheme, a stirring amalgam of fragile melodies and pulsating grooves that they call their own "Bohemian Rhapsody." Culling a musical library from different cultures and regions, these Foresters have sliced, diced, and sequenced an eclectic array of multinational incantations and voices into a singular global soundtrack. Riding these exotic samples, the album becomes an ocean of undulating riffs, ranging from Hungarian Gypsies (the tranquil "Anasthasia") to traditional Mongolian chants (the airy "Lament"). And while world-music vocalist Marta Sebestyen elevates the dance hit "Marta's Song," the only track that slides off course is the title cut, which sounds as though Yoko Ono crept into the studio and sabotaged the session. Still, an otherwise sparkling collection.

By George Pelletier

Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters

Assuming former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl dreads the thought of forever being known as "the guy from Kurt Cobain's band," the last thing he'd want to hear is that the debut album from his new band, Foo Fighters, sounds much like the deceased duke of grunge. Unfortunately for Grohl, Nirvana comparisons are not only inevitable, they're bound to entirely consume the dialogue surrounding the quartet.

Perhaps it was unavoidable osmosis: Grohl, Foo Fighters' singer-guitarist, wrote most of these tunes during breaks from beat-keeping for his former bandleader. It's natural that Cobain's knack for balancing hard and fast with musical and melodic would wear off on Grohl, as well as his bandmates -- Pat Smear (who also played with Nirvana), William Goldsmith, and Nate Mendel (the latter two from Seattle's Sunny Day Real Estate). Grohl even unveils vocal cords that tread lightly on Cobain's gorgeous growl.

Of course, many Nirvana-be's have tried to capture Kurt and company's teen spirit, and all failed. That Foo Fighters succeed in creating a powerful heavy rock album that's neither noisy nor stale is a measured accomplishment in its own right. So bask in the familiar neo-garage punk (a.k.a. grunge) of "I'll Stick Around," "Oh, George," and "Good Grief," because we certainly won't hear anything from the style's originator in the near future. And who knows, you even might be surprised by Grohl's own pop chops on the mellow, Byrds-ish folk rock of "Big Me" and the catchy raveup "This Is a Call." Foo Fighters prove that even if you can't go home again, it sure is comfortable hanging out next door.

BY Roni Sarig

stiffs, inc.
Nix Nought Nothing

Wait a minute. Nobody told me about a Stiff Little Fingers reunion album. Or is it Sham 69?

By Michael Yockel

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