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BERNARD BUTLER People Move On (Creation): Three years after flouncing out of Suede, and two years after the abortive partnership with David McAlmont, Butler has at last delivered the kind of high-grade solo album he always seemed capable of when he finally gave up the celebrity sessioning. From the laconic opening strains of Woman I Know to the acoustic earthiness of Tired, Butler largely eschews the melodramatics of his previous ventures for an emotional and musical directness, taking in muscular riffs, big melodies, luscious ballads, undulating slide guitar fills and a lived-in voice that's a good deal more palatable than the Gallagher whine. Indeed this is the kind of tuneful, fun, album Oasis should have made after Morning Glory, until their ambitions expanded exponentially with their egos. Bernard Butler as the new standard bearer for good old-fashioned British pop? It's beginning to look that way. HHHHH

MARK KNOPFLER Wag The Dog (Vertigo): The, we must presume, former Dire Straits frontman has carved himself a useful niche in recent times as a supplier of tuneful, tasteful soundtracks and this mini-album (25 minutes running time to be precise) is a prime example of the artform. Wag The Dog harks back to the restrained bluesey shuffles of the first Dire Straits album while the remaining seven tracks, all instrumentals, range from the folky (Working On It) and ragtime Just Instinct to the the Shadows-tinged An American Hero. There's even a strong hint of Romeo and Juliet in the gently undulating In The Heartland. A little treasure. HHHH

Simon Evans


NILS PETTER MOLVAER Khmer and Khmer The Remixes (both ECM): The sometimes rather dry, ascetic sounds of European jazz from the ECM label and let's-party-tilawn, drum-heavy club music are not the most likely of bedfellows, but that's what you get with this Norwegian trumpeter/guitarist.

Khmer is an astonishing mixture of cool muted trumpet against guitar washes and percussion with speaker-shaking beats underpinning it all.

Tlon is the real techno song from the album, based on a loop of sound Molvaer lifted from a Coldcut CD of free samples; the title track is based around a dulcimer part; and elsewhere there are trumpet and acoustic guitar duets and what gets near to industrial rock.

To add to the incongruity of it all, ECM have released a CD single of a track from the album, plus three more remixed by The Herbaliser, Rockers Hi-Fi and Mental Overdrive. The revelation is that it all sounds wonderfully coherent. HHHHH

TIM BERNE'S BLOODCOUNT Discretion (Screwgun): New York saxophonist/composer Berne was recently in town playing with a bigger British band, but this disc finds him in the quartet he brought to Britain nearly a year ago. Berne on alto and baritone, MichaelFormanek on bass, Chris Speed on tenor and clarinet and Jim Black on drums start from sparse, free beginnings sometimes meandering in and out of each other's lines, sometimes suddenly coalescing into punchy riffs.

It's improvised music in the true spirit jazz - depending on a balance of technique and ideas, combined with an inexhaustible desire to take risks - oh, and big ears, too. HHHH

KETIL BJORNSTAD The Sea II (ECM): This is more typical of ECM's output - atmospheric, very Nordic, and with the ubiquitous Jon Christensen on drums. Bjornstad plays piano and writes shimmering, evocative stuff. David Darling adds cello, and the whole thing would be a little soporific if it weren't for Terje Rypdal's heavily distorted guitar suddenly shrieking at us. An interesting disc, but not immediately appealing or intriguing. HH

Peter Bacon
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 4, 1998
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