Alibi V.17 No.42 • Oct 16-22, 2008 

Sonic Reducer

Solid Ghost norMal Musik (Self-released)

On norMal Musik, the debut CD from Solid Ghost, Arnold Bodmer and Justin Parker collaborate on eight original compositions (plus two from Dwight Loop and one from Moondog) created from unstructured improvisations that have been edited, manipulated and expanded into architecturally sound and emotionally evocative musical collages. Using acoustic recorders, pianos (real and toy), percussion instruments, noisemakers, spoken word, and electronic samplers and synthesizers, the duo offers lush reveries, dance grooves (from disco/New Wave to tribal), an electronic waltz that sounds like it was originally scored for a Mexican calliope, and more in a wide-ranging exploration of sound and feeling. (MM)

Jazmine Sullivan Fearless (J-Records)

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The modern world of R&B is dominated by English acts like Duffy and Estelle. With Jazmine Sullivan in the chorus, America’s voice has the potential to again soar across the pond and beyond. Sullivan has an extensive background in gospel music, and having grown up North Philadelphia adds bulk to her music credentials. Her first single, "Need U Bad," is arguably the highlight track on the album, blending Philly soul with a reggae vibe. The single's hot and the album is bathwater warm. Star-quality production to match that star-quality voice should ensure a successful career. (JH)

Noah and the Whale Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down (Interscope)

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The line between effortless and forced are sometimes blurred. Noah and the Whale walks the tightrope of earnest twee-core and superficial gimmickry and escapes relatively unscathed. Hand claps, shout-back choruses and ukulele feel like they’ve been planted by a record exec eager to capitalize on a cutesy trend. But the songwriting as a whole and singer-songwriter Charlie Fink’s vocals in particular shoot straight from the hip. Fink never shows too much emotion in his voice, but there’s a hint of vulnerability that’s unmistakable and raw. Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down sometimes overthinks itself, but the heart of the record is pure. (SM)

(JH) Justin Hood (MM) Mel Minter, (SM) Simon McCormack