In contrast, Remembering the Future indulges in everything from flamenco and pop to New Age and Latin jazz. In the press material accompanying the set, Romero says, "If you want to see [my] soul . . . this pretty much has me totally naked. All my tastes in music are represented on this record." Classical music is represented by soft-core arrangements of Pachelbel's Canon (again?) and familiar works by several French composers, but it's all too slick and sweet and EuroDisney. Remembering the Future makes it hard to remember a time in the past when classical performers didn't need to record easy-listening music to earn a wage.

BY Raymond Tuttle

Dave Dobbyn
(Tristar Music)

Heavy on atmospherics, heavy on talented players, heavy on images, and at times just plain heavy, Twist is the sort of album that takes awhile to digest. The second solo outing from Dave Dobbyn, one of New Zealand's premier songwriters, is not likely to make him a household name in the States; it lacks both a hit single and the kind of clamor generally favored in the Land of the Loud. Nevertheless, Twist is filled with quietly moving compositions that distinguish themselves slowly, blossoming into grace upon repeated listenings.

Dobbyn's recipe is simple: high-quality ingredients, well mixed. The disc is a virtual all-star effort, with fellow Kiwis Neil and Tim Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House) contributing guitars and backing vocals, and Mutton Birds Ross Burge and Alan Gregg supplying a rock-steady rhythm section. Veteran producer Mitchell Froom, who has worked the boards for Crowded House, plays keyboards. Together this crew pumps Dobbyn's low-key songs full of enticing noises. "In the Lap of the Gods" and "Lament for the Numb" are both fueled by reverberating guitar leads that sprawl across driving beats. On "Naked Flame," squalls of whining feedback are elicited by the revving of a power screwdriver during Neil Finn's guitar solo, providing an aural jolt during an otherwise subdued love song. "It Dawned on Me" and "I Can't Change My Name" are the best of the album's ballads, with lush melodies fleshed out by violins, piano, and Dobbyn's own smoky tenor.

As a lyricist, Dobbyn combines a vivid feel for his homeland's ravaged regions with his own equally devastated internal landscape. In "Rain on Me," he sings of "a river, deep in my valley/Jagged rapids and the bony salmon thrash/Upstream but never spawn/Rock velvet and sky in my unstable valley/The lava is alive, shallow beneath the dirt." He's also not above pop-culture bashing: "PC," which relates the story of a talk-show viewer turned murderer, joyfully rants against the forces of political correctness in a style that is closer to a beer-hall chant than to a pop song. The disc's sleeper is "Protection," a hypnotic tale about the perils of emotional attachment.

This is cynicism you can snap your fingers to, and if the dozen songs collected here lack the instant flash that wins airplay on radio and MTV, Twist, like the aging songwriter at its center, is built to last.

By Steven Almond

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