Rae and Christian Sleepwalking

For a couple of white boys from Manchester, this duo really know how to cook up some great soul based-hip-hop. Mark Rae (DJ and lyricist) and Steve Christian (Production wiz), members of Manchester's Grand Central crew, have followed-up their 1998 debut album, Northern Sulphuric Soul, with an album that shows that their debut was no fluke. After a number of remixes for the likes of Lamb, Moby and the Pharcyde, the band took some time off to experiment and work on new ideas for the next album. Sleepwalking, their second album and first to be distributed by !K7, continues the combination of hip-hop and soul, using more instruments and some new collaborators. This time around, the boys have invited the Pharcyde, Kate Rogers (who sang on Cold Water Music, the album by R&C's label-mate Aim), Bobby Womack and the Congos to add the vocals to their tunes. The shining moment, however, has to be "Vai Viver A Vida," featuring the seductive voice of Portugese singer Tania Maria, singing in her native tongue over a 40-piece orchestra. The end result is a record that is jam packed with smooth grooves that would make D'Angelo jealous, rhymes that show that the Pharcyde are still in top form and lush vocals that bring heaven to your ears. (Studio !K7)