DANCE BEAT: Stereo MC's, Ken Ishii, UNKLE...

English hip-hop stars set first album in nine years for June 12 release.

English hip-hop group the Stereo MC's will return to the scene with their first album in nine years, Deep Down & Dirty, June 12. Following the worldwide success of their first three albums, including their 1990 debut, 33-45-78, and 1992's Connected, the band, led by rapper Rob B (born Rob Birch) and DJ/producer The Head (born Nick Hallam), essentially disappeared, with only rumors of a return in their wake. During that time, the pair formed a publishing company called Spirit Songs, which handles Jurassic 5 and Finley Quaye, as well as a label called Response Records. Deep Down & Dirty — which follows by a year their mix-CD in the DJ-Kicks series, which included three new tracks by the band — features 13 songs that tap into the Stereo MC's' trademark mix of heavy hip-hop breaks, deep, grinding grooves and gritty synth effects and samples. Vocals are handled by longtime singer Cath Coffey. ...

Ken Ishii, Japan's top techno DJ/producer, will release his fourth full-length, Flatspin, later this month on Sony Music Imports. He will support the album with eight DJ dates around North America, beginning March 27 at the Winter Music Conference in Miami Beach. Ishii came to prominence in North America with his 1995 album, Jelly Tones, which featured the hit single "Extra." His DJ tour dates are as follows: March 27 in Miami, FL at Red (Winter Music Conference); March 28 in Montreal, Quebec at Jingxi; March 30 in Columbus, OH, at Pulse; March 31 in Chicago at Rendofive; April 4 in Los Angeles at the Knitting Factory; April 5 in San Francisco at Optimal; April 6 in Toronto, Ontario at S.O.S.; and April 7 in New York at Centro-Fly. ...

UNKLE, the recording project of Mo Wax Records head James Lavelle and Rich File, have released their first new music since the 1998 hit album Psyence Fiction, which featured DJ Shadow on several tracks. "NarcoTourists," a collaborative single with the Glasgow, Scotland, duo Slam (Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle) was released March 6 on Soma Recordings and includes the original track plus a remix by each of the artists. Slam will release their second album this summer. ..

Detroit techno veteran Stacey Pullen has released his first album in four years, Today Is The Tomorrow You Were Promised Yesterday, in the U.K. Starkly gorgeous and minimal in the classic Detroit style but driven by intricate, jazz-influenced rhythms, Today is a challenging, complex work. Pullen's most recent full-length was the 1997 singles collection Electronic Poetry: The Collected Works of Kosmic Messenger, named for one of his aliases, which was preceded two years earlier by The Theory of Silent Phase, a proper studio album released under the name Silent Phase. ...

Following appearances in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, drum 'n' bass superstars Roni Size/Reprazent will continue a series of unique in-store appearances on Sunday (March 18) at Tower Records in downtown New York. The events, which include signings of their recent album, In The Mode, and current single, "Who Told You" (RealAudio excerpt), also feature performances by the group — Size, DJs Krust, Die and Suv, MC Dynamite and vocalist Onalee — as well as audience participation. Fans are encouraged to add to the performance, either by singing, playing keyboards or manning the turntables, with Size using the contributions to instantly produce a new track, which he then plays for the crowd. The New York in-store coincides with the group's Hammerstein Ballroom show on Saturday (March 17), with support from Bahamadia and special guests. Other in-stores are scheduled for Washington, D.C. (March 19), and Miami (March 25). ...

German electronic-jazz trio To Rococo Rot have teamed up with New York experimental producer I-Sound for their fourth album, Music Is A Hungry Ghost, which is due May 8. Berlin- and Dusseldorf-based To Rococo Rot — brothers Ronald and Robert Lippok and Stefan Schneider — met I-Sound (born Craig Willingham) when sharing the bill on the New York stop of the trio's 1998 U.S. tour in support of their second album, Veiculo (1997). The four later collaborated in Berlin on a song, "A Little Asphalt Here and There," that appeared on 1999's acclaimed The Amateur View, and worked together more extensively on the new Ghost. ...

Eclectic English producer Squarepusher (born Tom Jenkinson) will release his first new music in a year and a half with the single "My Red Hot Car," which is due May 15. Squarepusher's most recent release was the album Selection Sixteen, which came out in November 1999. ...

The Angel, one of the few accomplished women producers in underground music, will release her latest album, No Gravity, May 22 on Supacrucial Recordings. The album mixes instrumental hip-hop cuts with tracks featuring rappers Tre Hardison (formerly of the Pharcyde), Divine Styler, the Freestylers' Navigator and Mystic. The Angel, a Brooklyn native and longtime Los Angeles resident, has released two albums, Thru the Haze, a 1997 collaboration with Smith & Mighty called Jaz Klash, and '98's Tune In Turn On, which was released under the pseudonym 60 Channels. ...

The third album by English electronic duo Plaid will be titled Double Figure and is due May 29 in America on Warp Records. Following their 2000 compilation of early tracks, Trainer, the duo, Andy Turner and Ed Handley, have made snippets of five songs from Double Figure available on the Warp Web site (www.warprecords.com). In a similar vein to their first two albums, 1998's Not for Threes and '99's Rest Proof Clockwork, the new album is packed with Plaid's warm sense of melody and inventive, pulsing beats. ...

Chicago house legend Larry Heard (a.k.a. Mr. Fingers and Fingers Inc.) will return to the fold with his latest album, Love's Arrival, which is due in early June on the Brooklyn, NY, house label Track Mode Recordings. Following a flurry of releases that ended with 1999's Genesis, Arrival will be Heard's first release since last year's "Missing You" single. The creator of such seminal '80s house cuts such as "Mystery of Love," "Washing Machine" and "Can U Feel It?" continues in the vein of subtle, enveloping deep house on the new album, which features 12 cuts, including Heard's own Jazz Café mix of "Missing You" and 11 new songs. ...

Down-tempo San Diego hip-hop DJ/producer Greyboy (born Andreas Stevens), has completed work on his third LP, Master the Art, which is due May 22 on Ubiquity Recordings. Greyboy's first album in almost five years mixes bossa nova and '70s spy-soundtrack snippets with his trademark jazzy breakbeats, and features collaborations with vibraphonist Dave Pike, guitarist Elgin Park and MC Mainflo. The producer gained notoriety in the mid-'90s for his jazz-inspired breaks and his incorporating of live jazz musicians on 1995's Freestylin' and 1996's Land of the Lost, which spawned the popular touring funk ensemble the Greyboy All-Stars. A brief U.S. tour in support of Master the Art is in the works for late May. ...

— sonicnet.com staff report