Sonic Reducer

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The second U.S. release from this fine quartet—Avishai Cohen (trumpet/flügelhorn), Yonatan Avishai (piano), Omer Avital (bass) and Daniel Freedman (drums)—continues its collective exploration of various musical strains (funk, Mizrahi, flamenco, samba, Afro-Cuban) in a jazz embrace. They all contribute compositions (with one Ellington track), making straight-ahead, uncluttered, emotional music that grooves. It’s definitely an egalitarian affair, but Cohen’s warmth and expressiveness and his arresting improvisational acumen make him the first among peers. His unassuming composition “Gigi et Amelie” is the disc’s most beautiful, closely followed by Avishai’s bluesy “Beauty of Death” and the sweet Middle Eastern ache of Avital’s jazz waltz “Homeland.” (MM)

CSS Donkey (Sub Pop)

Brazil’s CSS ( Cansei de Ser Sexy) is a little cheesy, but it’s more like aged Brie than a Kraft single. The fashion-forward, mostly female six-piece’s artsy disco post-punk has to be slowly ingested and savored before its full flavor is revealed. Carnal lyrics fit over the top of frenetic synths, nothing-fancy guitar and rapid-fire rhythms. Rough around the edges but with a sweet center, CSS pumps out guilt-free club hits that bring the heat. The band is charmingly tacky, and its unpolished, enigmatic nature makes CSS more than a vanilla dance outfit with sexy accents. (SM)

Sigur Rós Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (Beggars Xl Recording)

From first glance at the track titles (not to mention the name of the album), it occurred to me that these guys might just be making up words on top of fairy tale-like music arrangements. Sigur Rós is, of course, from Iceland, and a portion of its lyric content is rumored to be “Vonlenska,” a scat-like gibberish of the band’s creation. But in Icelandic, the album title is more than meaningful: "With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly." Sigur Rós continues to weave majestic melodies through its Icelandic roots. (JH)

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