Terminal Velocity -- Icebreaker (Argo/Decca)

* Ouch. Not for the faint-hearted, the music of Icebreaker. A sound

based on saxophones, keyboards, bass guitars and percussion, derived

from the street-band music of Dutch hard man Louis Andriessen,

Icebreaker's music is neo-brutalism, tinged with jazz, minimalism, and

the colour of sonic violence.

Five tracks on their new album, Terminal Velocity, set the style.

Andriessen's own De Snelheid zonks you in the chops, a musical one-two.

Michael Gordon's Yo Shakespeare and group player Damien Le Gassick's

Evol are aggressive, jaw-jutting, driving pieces. David Lang's Slow

Movement is 23 minutes of musical sludge.

In the middle -- blessed relief -- Gavin Bryars' Archangel Trip

represents a characteristically calm, soft-textured eye of the storm.

Otherwise: brain-bruising can ensue.

Shostakovich Five -- Berlin SO, Sanderling (Eterna/Berlin Classics)

* Attention Shostakovich addicts. Few great conductors have come

closer to consistently penetrating the ambivalent symbolism in the music

of Shostakovich than Kurt Sanderling. (Remember his harrowing version of

the Fifth Symphony with the Berlin Phil in the opening week of the

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall back in 1990?) We all know by now that

Shostakovich wrote in code; that the apparent gestures of popularism and

obeisance to the policies of Joe Stalin contain, just below the surface

and within the fabric of the music, a blisteringly critical diatribe on


Hear it in the edgily calm, witheringly sardonic, and implacably

dignified version of the Fifth Symphony (recorded in 1982 and newly

reissued) with Sanderling and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Michael


Crazy for Gershwin -- Carol Kidd (Linn)

* Whatever possessed producer Christopher Quinn and the team to begin

this disc with I Got Plenty of Nuthin? One of the lowlights of a

variable album, it has a cluttered arrangement and an uncertain tempo.

With Carol, less is more, and the best of the George 'n' Ira stuff here

is Someone To Watch Over Me, in a wonderful two-guitar arrangement by

Dominic Ashworth for himself and Nigel Clark.

Ashworth's choice of chords is audacious and makes something new of a

song which suffers from over-familiarity. Elsewhere Kidd has mixed

fortunes with some of the old warhorses here, Gershwin and non-Gershwin.

Louis Jordan's Is You Is My Baby is rescued from associations with the

Tom and Jerry cartoon by being played completely straight. Stormy

Weather and Rockabye Your Baby similarly benefit from the contribution

of pianist David Newton, the latter featuring lovely rolling gospel

chords. But Smile and Summertime have missed out on reinterpretation.

Return Journey -- David Newton (Linn)

* It is debatable whether the pianist's solo disc is a jazz album at

all. Newton is clearly a jazz player but these are carefully constructed

solo piano compositions, varying in length from two to 11 minutes, given

their fullest possible expression. Some, like the opener Stolen Time and

the bluesy four-tune suite Return Journey, are achingly beautiful.

Garage Orchestra -- Cindy Lee Berryhill (Cargo)

* A welcome return by the tender-hearted, hard-eyed California

surf-siren whose skewed, childlike musical vision echoes Joni Mitchell

and Jonathan Richman. Let me be wiped out on your beach, Cindy!

Now I'm A Cowboy -- Auteurs (Hut)

* Gutsy, broody, literate. See them tonight at Glasgow's Garage with

the equally-wondrous Luna. Anyone for EngLit-rock?

Long Time Gone -- Galliano (Talkin' Loud)

* Tipping its titfer to Carlos Santana, this relaxed and rootsy

reworking of the Crosby, Stills and Nash hit is a funk-rock-hip/hop

mash-up with braying horn and sweet soul chorus. We tremble in

anticipation of the new album, The Plot Thickens, and the Galliano

groove live at Barrowland on June 19.

Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star -- Sonic Youth (Geffen)

* Still-surprising avant-garde art-rock guitar-thrash. Rating? Seven


Basement Tapes -- The Rubinoos (One Way)

* Unreleased demos circa 1980-81 by the defunct Californian Anglophile

quartet. If the Bay City Rollers had been innocent and written really

neat songs, and sung them really well, they'd sound this good, i.e. a

wee power-pop delight, all aching harmonies and lovelorn melody.

Teenager Of The Year -- Frank Black (4AD)

* A 22-track riposte to the Beatles' White Album -- i.e., it initially

appears bitty, sketchy and disappointing, but it's rather good if you

give it a chance. David Belcher