DANCE BEAT: Portishead, Everything But the Girl, Monolake...

Trip-hop masters begin work on third studio album.

Portishead have begun recording their third studio album, according to a spokesperson for the group's new U.S. label, Island Records. No release date has been set for the record, and members of the trip-hop masters — producer Geoff Barrow, singer Beth Gibbons, bassist/guitarist Adrian Utley and DJ Andy Smith — haven't yet hinted at what direction they're venturing in. Portishead released the live album PNYC in 1998, four years after the release of their acclaimed debut, Dummy, which included the hit single "Sour Times" (RealAudio excerpt). Their second, self-titled LP came out in 1997. ...

"Tracey in My Room," the dance-floor hit that blends Everything But the Girl's 1996 single "Wrong" with a Soul Vision remix of Sandy Rivera's "Come Into My Room," is set to receive an official U.S. release February 8, according to the duo's U.S. label, Atlantic Recordings. Having emerged as an anthem at EBTG producer Ben Watt's weekly London club night, Lazy Dog, "Tracey in My Room," named for singer Tracey Thorn, was initially pressed up in a tiny 500-copy run and distributed to DJs. But reaction to the song has been so great that a commercial release was planned. The track was included on the recent Lazy Dog double mix-CD on Astralwerks Records, which features discs by both Watt and Lazy Dog co-resident Jay Hannan. ...

Veteran electronic musician Robert Henke has released the third album under his Monolake moniker, titled Gravity and released on Monolake's eponymous record label. Following the project's 1997 debut on Berlin's Chain Reaction label, the dub-techno masterpiece Hongkong, which was produced with Gerhard Behles, and 1999's Interstate, Gravity melds the two albums' deliberate pacing and seemingly submerged production to hypnotic effect. ...

Following nearly two years on the road, a recent appearance on "The Tonight Show" and a live New Year's Eve concert in Edinburgh, Scotland, that was broadcast on MTV, Moby has returned home to New York to begin work on his next album. The star producer also received a Grammy nomination Wednesday (January 3) for Best Dance Recording for his song "Natural Blues," from 1999's acclaimed Play, and is scheduled to record a celebrity episode (for charity) of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" on February 1 in New York. ...

After releasing three albums in 2000, Finnish producer Vladislav Delay is already at it again, with his first album of the new year, Anima, due January 23. Following his exquisite deep-house reinvention as Luomo on the critically acclaimed Vocalcity, as well as his minimal-house incarnation as Uusitalo, the prolific Delay returns to the super-subtle textures that characterized his previous albums under his own name, including his 1999 album Renta for the revered Berlin label Chain Reaction. Delay is currently at work on the second Luomo album, which is due later in 2001. ...

Leading experimental-techno duo Autechre — Sheffield, England's Rob Brown and Sean Booth — will release their second Peel Sessions EP in January on Warp Records. The four tracks were recorded September 8, 1999, on John Peel's legendary BBC Radio 1 program. The songs, whose titles were supplied by listeners to the show who called in, are: "Gelk," "Bilfil," "Gaekwad" and "19 Headaches." Autechre have also just finished work on their seventh album, which is due in the spring, according to a spokesperson for Warp's recently opened U.S. office. ...

West London UK Garage star MJ Cole will finally release his debut album, Sincere, in the U.S. on March 13. Touted as possessing the most musical chops in Britain's white-hot two-step scene, Cole (born Matthew Coleman) took his reputation as a top studio engineer — he's worked with junglists Ed Rush and Trace as well as Soul II Soul and London hip-hopper Roots Manuva — and translated it into a successful production career. Several of his UK hits, including the title track (RealAudio excerpt), "Crazy Love" and "You're Mine," are included on Sincere, which came out in Britain on Gilles Peterson's Talkin' Loud Records. ...

Minneapolis techno artist Jake Mandell will release his third album, Love Songs for Machines, January 30 on the indie electronic-music label Carpark. A step away from the experimental minimal grooves and tones of his first two LPs, 1998's Parallel Processes and this year's Quondam Current, the new album breaks new ground in emotional expression through electronic music. Tapping into machine grooves influenced by '80s New Wave and early techno, Love Songs is vulnerable but also funky. As Mandell writes in the liner notes: "I realized that in order for my music to have the emotional and physical impact that I was hearing in my head, I would have to learn to let my love for machines escape its tempestuous confinement." ...

Vincent Gallo, the actor and director, has signed to the renowned U.K. techno label Warp Records and will release an album in the spring, according to a spokesperson for the label. Details on the album are not yet available. Best known for writing, directing and starring in the critically acclaimed 1998 film "Buffalo 66," as well as his roles in "The Funeral," "Palookaville" and "Arizona Dream," Gallo is also a former Calvin Klein model. In addition to a painting career in the 1980s, Gallo released an album with the band Bohack in 1983. He also recorded eight songs for the soundtrack to "Buffalo 66" and formed a band called Bunny with actor Lukas Haas ("Witness," "Mars Attacks"), which never released any material commercially. ...

Scottish post-rock duo Arab StrapAidan Moffett and Malcolm Middleton — will release their fourth album, The Red Thread, on February 27. The record will be licensed from the band's Glasgow label, Chemikal Underground, in the U.S. by Matador Records. Following fairly closely on the heels of their third album, Elephant Shoe, which came out this summer, and a recent live album, Mad for Sadness, The Red Thread ventures deeper into the territory where ambient-electronic production and sparse, morose pop overlap. ...

— sonicnet.com staff report