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Notable CDs | The Top 5 electronic CDs for the week ending Oct. 19

Issue: "The 2002 vote," Nov. 2, 2002

1. DIRTY VEGAS

18 weeks on chart

STYLE Electronica, acid house, modern disco-what Ecstasy addicts are said to enjoy dancing to all night.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW "There must be a better way / There must be a way to change ... Never know what the future will bring / Leave the past 'cos it don't mean a thing."

OVERALL QUALITY Unremarkable; mechanized monotony relieved only by an unannounced Pink Floyd cover at the end.

2. HEAVEN

9 weeks on chart

STYLE Hits of the '60s, '70s, and '80s recycled techno-disco style.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW By draping his gimmickry across the time-tested hooks of The Mamas and the Papas ("California Dreamin'"), Paul Simon ("El Condor Pasa"), Bryan Adams ("Heaven"), and Don Henley ("The Boys of Summer"), DJ Sammy uses a generally amelodic genre to affirm implicitly the durability and necessity of melody.

OVERALL QUALITY Fleeting, but enjoyable as novelties go.

3. A HUNDRED DAYS OFF

2 weeks on chart

STYLE Electronic minimalism (with all the emphasis on repetition that "minimalism" implies) at anything-but-minimal duration (average song length: 6:20).

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW Bands like Underworld don't generally articulate their worldviews, and even if they did, there's little chance that the all-night ravers at whom this music is aimed would pay much heed.

OVERALL QUALITY Intermittently catchy; as suitable for an aerobics class as for a dance club.

4. BUNKKA

16 weeks on chart

STYLE Eclectically electronic, with an ever-changing cast of singers, rappers, and Hunter S. Thompson for variety.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL "Nixon's Spirit" (profanity).

WORLDVIEW "Oh my starry eyed surprise, sundown to sunrise, / Dance all night, we're gonna dance all night, / dance all night to this DJ" ("Starry Eyed Surprise").

OVERALL QUALITY Intermittently enjoyable, with "Get Em Up" that rarity of rarities: a profanity-free rap song.

5. 18

21 weeks on chart

STYLE Eclectically electronic, with New Wave, New Age, gospel, and hip-hop influences for variety.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW Post-modern: "i'm still a vegan and i love christ and dance music ... but now i would never say that i was right in my beliefs or that someone who disagreed with me was wrong" (from the liner notes).

OVERALL QUALITY Given the eclecticism, the quality is as relative as Moby's apologetics.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Like the whale after which he's named, the techno-music superstar (and Herman Melville great-great-grandnephew) Moby is difficult to pin down. As a DJ his persona is in large part a composite: 18 (V2) features nine different vocalists, not counting Moby himself, and songs built upon, around, or with sampled music. An inveterately scrupulous moralist, he wears his ethical, political, and religious metamorphoses on his sleeve, often coming off, in keeping with the title of his recent hit "We Are All Made of Stars," like a gasbag.

He devotes the better part of his lengthy liner notes for 18 to assuring his public that despite his love for Christ he has no plans to carry out the Great Commission ("We're irrevocably locked into subjectivity.... We should never think that our personal beliefs are universal or objectively true"). Nevertheless, at least four of 18's songs allude to his "personal beliefs" in such a way that those with ears to hear just might.

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