Atoms for Peace, "Amok" (XL)
Atoms for Peace arose out of the touring band Radiohead singer Thom Yorke assembled for 2009's "The Eraser," his first solo album. The disc focused on the jittery electronic textures that have been a major part of Radiohead's vocabulary since "Kid A." "Amok" is an extension of "The Eraser," although it's a more dynamic and urgent album. It grew out of jam sessions between Yorke, multi-instrumentalist Nigel Godrich (Radiohead's longtime producer), bassist Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), drummer Joey Waronker (R.E.M., Beck) and percussionist Mauro Refosco (David Byrne), and many songs build slowly on repetitive, deeply layered grooves.
The result isn't too distant from the subdued end of Radiohead's broad spectrum. Yorke sings of paranoia and dislocation; brooding, nervous tension is the prevailing mood.
Steve Klinge, Philadelphia Inquirer
Ana Moura, "Desfado"(Decca)
Duality creates a profound undertow in fado, the alluring and mournful folk music of Portugal, and Moura, one of its brightest younger stars, knows to use it to her best advantage. Her voice, spring-loaded but slightly hoarse around the edges, seems to contain both a murmur and a shout. She sounds supremely self-possessed, and ready for it all to fall apart.
"Desfado," produced by Larry Klein, is Moura's latest crossover bid, complete with a Joni Mitchell cover, a Herbie Hancock cameo and a euphonious jangle of acoustic guitars, electric keyboards and muffled drums.
Somehow, crucially, the album doesn't overplay its commercial adaptation. It comes closest on "Dream of Fire," a tepid original by Moura. The two other songs in English are "Thank You," by David Poe, and "A Case of You," by Mitchell, each sung carefully, and each hewing to the album's implicit theme of dualism.
A good portion of the songs are by contemporary songwriters, most of them coming to fado from a slight remove. Perhaps partly as a result, Moura keeps singing here about fado itself, or about its trappings. She does better with more artful but less self-referential strategies.
Moura performs March 24-25 at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis.
NATE CHINEN, New York Times