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Listening Post / Brief reviews of select releases

> Dance

Sarah McLachlan, "Bloom: The Remix Album" (Arista). The Canadian songwriter's moody, haunting work has long appealed to DJs and remixers, more than likely because it is spacious, elegant and ambient. In 2003, "Sarah McLachlan Remixed" topped the Electronic Albums chart, and "Bloom" offers more of the same -- grand, sweeping remixes made for both clubs and late-night wine & cheese parties. Interesting, but hardly essential. McLachlan's originals are far superior. Review: 2 stars (Out of 4) (Jeff Miers)

> Hip-hop

Blackalicious, "The Craft" (Anti-). San Francisco duo Blackalicious could be the missing piece connecting hip-hop to not only its R&B roots, but also to a broader world that includes European ambient and trip-hop music. This album, called, wisely, "The Craft," is so bold and imaginative that, in the hip-hop world, it can only claim a few peers, among them Outkast and the Roots. Hip-hop conceived, written and arranged as music, not simply collage art; that's much more radical than it seems. This is the real deal. Review: 4 stars (J.M.)

> Classical

Magdalena Kozena, "Lamento," with Musica Antiqua Koln, Reinhard Goebel, conductor (Deutsche Grammophon Archiv). Some Sunday when I can't get up off the couch, I want to list all Bach's joyful arias about death. The centerpiece of this album is the luminous Bach cantata "Vergnuegte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust," which means "contented rest, the soul's beloved joy." The opening aria, about the joys of heaven, is bright as the day. And the closing aria ("It sickens me to live any longer. . .") bounces along merrily, with Kozena trading phrases with a burbling flute. The rest of this CD is for hard-core fans of Baroque music; there's a dull dirge by Johann Christoph Bach and Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach's "Die Amerikanerin," which didn't exactly live up to the intrigue of its title. Cantatas by Francesco Bartolomeo Conti and C.P.E. Bach add to this mostly colorful portrait of an era. Kozena's voice, smooth and assured, is a delight in itself. Review: 3 stars (Mary Kunz Goldman)

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Deborah Voigt, "All My Heart: Deborah Voigt Sings American Songs," with Brian Zeger, piano (EMI). This disc makes you marvel at the sheer scope of American songs. You have the archness of Leonard Bernstein's "Piccola Serenata," and Ives' delicate musical snapshots of old-time, small-town, Protestant America. Charles Tomlinson Griffes' heated paeans make you think of Wagner and Strauss, and three exquisite songs by Amy Beach hint at the impetuosity of Hugo Wolf. Eight songs by Ben Moore, born in 1960, are a special revelation. Voigt, most famous for her big Wagnerian roles, does a beautiful job of downsizing her voice to fit delicate miniatures like Ives' impressionistic "The Children's Hour," say, or Moore's affecting "I Am in Need of Music." It's a thrill, though, to hear her unleash her full power for the Griffes and the Beach, whose "The Year's at the Spring" ends the disc on a soaring note. Review: 4 stars (M.K.G.)

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