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SOUND BITES

FROM BILLBOARD MAGAZINE

Pop

The Cult: The Cult _ Sire/Reprise

Lead singer Ian Astbury may have cut his hair, but he hasn't scaled down the'80s-gothic, biker-glam drama. With Billy Duffy's fluid-to-fuzzy guitar licks over crunchy, thrashy drums _ and lyrics that lament River Phoenix, among others _ the Cult still turns out overwrought rockers. The drug cliches abound on Joy, pairing a Lennonesque grinding guitar and up-close vocal style (Cold Turkey) with Jim Morrison-style organ chords.

Various artists: Music from Pulp Fiction _ MCA

All but one of the songs accompanying this much-talked-about new film are previously released, so the soundtrack's genius lies not in its novelty but in director Quentin Tarantino's eclectic selection of surf, soul, pop and country nuggets. From Dick Dale's Misirlou, to Ricky Nelson's Lonesome Town, to Urge Overkill's cover of Neil Diamond's Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon, the album hangs together exceedingly well, woven with bits of film dialog.

Various artists: Music Clerks _ Chaos/Columbia

The offbeat bits of dialog dotting this soundtrack of the extremely low-budget, high-cachet film are among its surest delights, but the rough and rowdy music is pretty witty, too. Among the contributors of newly recorded music are the Jesus Lizard, Bad Religion, Corrosion Of Conformity, Bash & Pop, Stabbing Westward and Soul Asylum, whose Can't Even Tell is the first single and video. Alice in Chains also kicks in a track, Got Me Wrong, off its Sap EP.

R&B

Roberta Flack: Roberta _ Atlantic

The artist covers blues, jazz and R&B favorites, avoiding the copy-cat syndrome thanks to her distinctive voice and thanks to creative arrangements that push the boundaries of the original songs. Acoustic instrumentation make for adult-hip listening on Thrill Is Gone and I Don't Care Who Knows (Baby I'm Yours), while three-piece instrumentals like Tenderly and Angel Eyes shine.

Reel 2 Real: Move It! _ Strictly Rhythm

The popular underground duo makes its full-length debut with a solid set that blends the best elements of the house and reggae idioms. International hits I Like to Move It and the more recent Can You Feel It kick with hard and aggressive percussion and rapid-tongued toasting that is positively irresistible.

Classical

Kronos Quartet: Night Prayers _ Elektra Nonesuch

Ever exploring, Kronos here convenes a recital of new music from the East _ work of composers from Armenia, Uzbekistan, Georgia and other former Soviet states _ juxtaposing the sacred with the secular, folk tradition with high art. Focal points on a dark, demanding release include Giya Kancheli's furiously introspective title composition and soprano Dawn Upshaw's heart-rending contribution to Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky's Lacrymosa.

_BPI

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