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‘Feelings’ Born in Byrne’s Musical Lab : DAVID BYRNE, “Feelings”, Luaka Bop, (*** 1/2)

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Leave it to David Byrne to cut a wide swath through the musical jungle of modern pop, world-beat and traditional music, creating a path on which all those points converge into coherent and danceable tunes. The former Talking Heads leader has been experimenting with African and Latin rhythms since that pioneering art-rock band’s later years, and on “Feelings” he melds an array of diverse styles into a seamless package brimming with musical and lyrical wit.

Blend rock and rap? Fuse pop and dance music? Hey, why stop there, Byrne seems to have thought, when you can combine such seemingly incongruous genres as drum ‘n’ bass and country (“The Gates of Paradise”), or calypso and techno-pop (“Miss America Dance On”)? The amalgamations he dreams up are bound by no creative limits or taboos, and Byrne’s imagination runs wild.

Working with a variety of musicians and producers, including English trio Morcheeba, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale, and New York deejay-musician Hahn Rowe, Byrne builds each track larger than life. No matter how far out the fusion gets, he keeps these songs in the realm of pop, always grounding the stuff of his own imagination with hooks that instantly capture the listener’s fancy.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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