TRANS AM

Liberation

(Thrill Jockey)

Trans Am and I fell in love in 1998; soon after, we entered into a marriage. And thus, I have promised to honor them in sickness and in health, for better or worse, 'til death do us part. So even though their new album, Liberation, is not revolutionary, I cherish them regardless. The problem with the new digs is not that they suck, but more that they don't do anything new, except make broad statements about President Bush (hello, obvious). I guess it's Trans Am's fault for being such a good husband in the beginning, and blowing me away with the low-budget drum assault of The Surveillance, or the computer upgrade of Future World, or even the '80s rebirth they busted out on their last album TA. Liberation, unlike the others, keeps with the old standbys; choppy robotic guitar and samples, sparse vocals, and drumming that still makes you shit your pants. There are good songs for sure--June rocks the house with its dramatic guitar distortion; we've just been through better times. KATIE SHIMER

LOSCIL

First Narrows

(Kranky)

***

Next time you get a deep-tissue massage (you know you're overdue), bring a loscil CD with you. Vancouver producer Scott Morgan (and, incongruously, drummer for pop band Destroyer [see music pg XX]) brings the aqueous, dubbed-up techno of impeccable German labels like Mille Plateaux and Chain Reaction to the Pacific Northwest, where brothers know a bit about water and its soothing sound properties. Whereas Morgan created loscil's first two excellent albums in isolation, he completed First Narrows only after editing and mixing improvisations by Jason Zumpano (Fender Rhodes piano), Tim Loewen (guitar), and Nyla Rany (cello). The result is slightly more organic-sounding than loscil's Triple Point and Submers, but retains loscil's trademark blissfully narcotic aura. DAVE SEGAL

DJ ZEPH

Sunset Scavenger

(Wide Hive Records)

***

It wouldn't surprise me if DJ Zeph smoked the pot, or took Xanax, or at the very least drank Kava Kava tea while he was crafting this record. His album of downtempo-ed DJ tracks is smart, a slow, atmospheric melding of beats, vocals, piano, and twinkly sounds, but it isn't anything I could imagine people getting sweaty to--unless you mean in the sack. Even the songs featuring The Coup's Boots and the fantastically smooth Lyrics Born feel like they'd go better with a couch and a martini than the dancefloor at Holocene; on Lyrics' song "Hands Up," Zeph splices the emceeing with trippy, old- timey female singing which takes the edge off the intense verbal assault. Underscore matches beats with what sounds like cellos and violins to a mellifluous, and romantic effect. Even though the disc occasionally induces space-outs, there's something beautiful about mellow sounds that let you hear yourself think. KATIE SHIMER