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New recordings: Fhloston Paradigm, TLC, Glen Campbell [The Philadelphia Inquirer :: BC-MUS-ALBUMS:PH]

Fhloston Paradigm

"After ... "

(King Britt Archives (ASTERISK)(ASTERISK)(ASTERISK)1/2)

Among his many other pursuits, Philadelphia DJ and producer King Britt is a science-fiction geek. The auteur behind the groundbreaking neo-soul collective Sylk 130 and Afro-Futurist exploring Saturn Never Sleeps points to the heavens with his Fhloston Paradigm project, whose name is inspired by Fhloston Paradise, the planet that's home to a mind blowing Club Med-like resort in Luc Besson's 1997 movie "The Fifth Element." After Fhloston made its full length debut with Phoenix in 2014, the concept comes into its own on "After ... ," whose songs all connect the dots with clever titles like " ... Math," " ... The Fact," and " ... All Is Said and Done." These songs have no words, but lots of beautiful vocalizing, from Philadelphia electro-pop artist Kate Faust and opera singer Pia Ercole, among others. And musical assistance is provided by North Philly poet and industrial soundscapist Moor Mother and L.A. producer Nosaj Thing. The resulting never-sleepy, consistently compelling ambient music is at once soothing and restless, as it sweeps you off terra firma and pulls you into another abstract world.

_Dan DeLuca




(852 Musiq (ASTERISK)(ASTERISK)1/2)

So much of the height of history, the depth of sadness, and the weight of expectation is on this girl-group's first album in 15 years - its promised finale - it's a wonder TLC showed up for this at all. The lush, quirky harmonies (they loved a good deadpan vocal for effect), their lyrical outlook at the stupidity of beauty and copycat culture, their buoyant blend of sleek R&B and hip hop - all that made Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, and Philly-born Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes cuttingly crystal clear and unlike other female vocal outfits. Lopes' death in 2002 silenced T-Boz and Chilli until this current fan-driven and -funded return pushed the duo into the limelight.

TLC is good. Hearing Chilli and T-Boz together, doing their odd harmonic thing on tracks such as "Scandalous" is a thrill worth the price of admission. Winding their fierce, forward-moving harmonies through the frank, femme-empowered lyrical aplomb of its past on new songs such as "Perfect Girls" and "Haters" and listening to T-Boz do that flat vocal flip on the aptly titled "Way Back" - complete with '90s-era synths and a laid-back Snoop Dogg rap - make you yearn for the old slick soul days. But the rest of "TLC" is a tepid time encapsulation with mere twitches of trap to bring the duo into the present. Maybe give it one more shot, ladies?

_A.D. Amorosi


Glen Campbell



"Adios" is just what the title indicates: This is Glen Campbell saying goodbye with one final album as he continues his struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

The album was recorded in 2012, a year after his diagnosis, and it is a collection of finely wrought performances of songs the superstar had always wanted to record but never did. Given the circumstances, many of them take on a heartbreaking new resonance, from Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin' " to Roger Miller's previously unreleased "Am I Alone (or Is It Only Me)" - "Have I lost your love/ Or have I lost my mind?" Even something as overly familiar as "Funny How Time Slips Away" (a duet with writer Willie Nelson) gains an almost unbearable poignancy.

"Arkansas Farmboy" tells Campbell's backstory and was written by longtime accompanist Carl Jackson, who did such a fine job producing the 12-song set. And the album fittingly concludes with the title song, one of four here written by Jimmy Webb, with whom Campbell enjoyed some of his greatest hits: "Don't think that I'm ungrateful/ And don't look so morose," he sings. " ... I'll miss the blood-red sunset/ But I'll miss you the most."

_Nick Cristiano


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