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Thursday, December 13,2001


In art as in all other human endeavors, a successful model will be copied, both poorly and well, ad infinitum. The maxim that has arisen as justification for this behavior, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," could easily be applied to Dahlia. From the first notes of the first track of Dahlia's debut CD, Emotion Cycles, it is evident that the object of the Portland-based duo's flattery is the British outfit Portishead. Random samples interspersed with muted horns and electronica beats, provided

Happily, Dahlia is not simply a Portishead knock off. The remaining tracks on Emotion Cycles exhibit influences ranging from Dead Can Dance and New Order to Enya and Tori Amos. The overarching tone of the CD is techno/trance, but each track subtly separates itself, both instrumentally and lyrically. The harmonic progressions of "My Back" and "Ray Down" crescendo and crash powerfully, while the backing vocals of "Ease Up" provide an exotic feel reminiscent of Deep Forest.

Emotion Cycles is a versatile, consistently solid first effort from a couple of promising performers. Depending on your temperament, Dahlia's ambient offerings will easily accompany dinner conversation, the drive home from work, or some sweet lovin' on the living room sofa.


That Was Then-This Is Now/Thump

Frost (formerly Kid Frost) may look like a Latino version of Kingpin from the Spiderman comics, but he is an old-school rapper who's earned his bones, and on his latest double CD release, That Was Then-This Is Now, he shows he still knows how to flow like a pro.

In the same way that Ice-T broke out of the rap mold and garnered a larger fan base in the suburbs with Original Gangster, Frost's That Was Then appears designed to spread the words of this Latino maestro to wider audiences by showing that Frost raps not just for la Raza. To his credit, Frost manages to deliver hardcore gangsta rap, while keeping the music interesting. Spanish guitars and mariachi horns dance around boomin' beats, and an assortment of guest MCs keep the mix jumpin'.

As with all the best gangsta rap, That Was Then is an unabashed celebration of all things G. Drugs, boozin', sex and bangin' pervade the CD, and Frost's barrio bravado is slathered on each track like a spicy ranchero sauce. On "The Game Remains The Same," Frost succinctly lays out the rules for being a hustler, and because no ode to gangsta life would be complete without a nod to why they play the game, "That's All A Gansta Needs" lists the requirements and benefits of gangsta life: "Pussy, straps, liquor, homies and weed. That's all a motherfuckin' gangsta needs."


Various Artists
KBCO Studio C Volume 13 / KBCO

Since Melissa Ethridge dropped by in 1988 to record live in the studio, the Triple-A (Adult Album Alternative) trailblazer, KBCO, has been churning out Studio C, a collection of lo-cal, adult contemporary tracks by the "world-class" artists that climbs in value faster than tech stocks in the late-'90s. Last year's drop, Volume 12, is going for 30 bones at Cheapo Discs, but you can bet thrice that the winner of the 6th annual KBCO Studio C cover art contest won't include "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics."

Except for maybe Pete Yorn's "Life on a Chain" and Ryan Adams' "New York, New York," Volume 13 is far from pushing the envelope. But there are some tasty tracks worth the $10 investment, which goes to benefit the Boulder County AIDS Project. Stevie Nick's immaculate "Landslide" could suck a river of tears from a truck driver; Sting's Spanish-tinged "Desert Rose" sounds much better not coming from the backseat of a Jaguar; and the Cranberries' thick-brogued "Analyse" adds some flavor to the mix.

Others include: an over-polished recording of Delbert McClinton's "Givin' It Up For Your Love"; a gritty, personable take of John Hiatt's "The Tiki Bar Is Open"; Buddy Guy doing Hiatt's "Feels Like Rain"; and Coldplay's "Yellow" (no comment). But except for Big Head Todd's "Again and Again," KBCO's hometown is sorely under-represented.


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