MUSIQ. On his second release, "Juslisen" (Def Soul), Philly neo-soul star Musiq again translates the influences of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway into wonderfully melodic songs that layer '70s soul trappings over contemporary grooves. Musiq still takes a less innovative approach to re-crafting classic R&B than D'Angelo or Erykah Badu, but the melodic allure of his songs remains irresistibly strong.
NELLY. Modern science may have mapped the genome, but can it conclusively determine whether Nelly is a pop throwaway or a substantial breath of fresh air? While the presence of Justin Timberlake on the St. Louis rapper's infectious new release "Nellyville" (Atlantic) suggests the former, Nelly's skipping beats and hook-y, almost melodic raps do provide a nice alternative to hip-hop's rote swagger and phat narcissism.
RICHARD PINHAS. From his days fronting the progressive rock band Heldon in the '70s to his current solo work, French guitarist Richard Pinhas has remained an experimental music luminary who parallels Robert Fripp's fusion of guitar improvisation and technology. Pinhas' beautiful new CD "Event and Repetitions" (Cunieform) brims with grand, glacial soundscapes. He'll perform here with electronic musician Jerome Schmidt.
LEGENDARY PINK DOTS. Despite deftly blending sonic adventure and accessibility for more than 20 years, Britain's Legendary Pink Dots have yet to achieve fame beyond their sinister, crypto-cult grotto. The band's new CD "All the King's Men" (ROIR) is another fine dose of slightly macabre imagery woven into atmospheric, psychedelic electro-pop that merges early Pink Floyd with Bauhaus.
Reger is a Chicago freelance writer.
Originally published Oct. 24, 2002.