Beat-noir

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The U.K. queen who first quietly wowed U.S. audiences with the poetic down-tempo drawl of her DJ Kicks mix disc for the !K7 label here delivers a broodingly beautiful full-length that shows she can hold her own as much as a frontwoman as a DJ. Though she proves she can croon, whisper and deliver a chorus like a sexier Jane Siberry on "The Unknown," it's the goth-electro instrumentals that sound more inspired than the 4AD-with-bass-bumps hip-hoppity orchestral vocal tracks. "In Two Minds" tinkers along like Ectomorph with heavy eyeliner, while "Melodious Thunk" is just that, the cleverly cool aural pun its name promises, a boxy electro romp with what sounds like a clanging radiator and a Pong game singing a strange duet.

While there's certainly a nod to Massive Attack's brand of beat-noir here, Parker's real accomplishment with Arp is diversifying, keeping the ethereal vocal stuff dusky and dramatic, and the instrumental tracks confidently in their own little run-on worlds.

Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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