Tom Third Continuous City

The label Nutone's manifesto for existence, like that of many similar labels, already irks somewhat. If its goal is to support artists who will courageously transgress the boundaries of what makes "good electronic" music - a term already carrying a trail of nonsensical explanations in its wake - it has to understand the massive task at hand. So any artist under such an elusive, dramatic rubric is suffering the plight of curiosity and scepticism combined. Toronto composer Tom Third offers up a concept album of sorts, aka portraits of cities of the postmodern age. The effect is pleasantly good, in the way that an inoffensive cup of coffee gets you through the morning - pallid, but not quite your gourmet cup of the good stuff. When tracks do show some edge, it's because they sound uncannily like someone else, such as "Kodama 473" and "Ant Farm," which mimic the Asian breakbeat sound, now so well established by State of Bengal. But Zaman's musical output has soul and sincerity to it, something that is lacking in this stylish but nonchalantly boring effort. The appearance of various Canadian players, such as vocalists Tamara Williamson, Kathryn Rose and guitarist Kurt Swinghammer, are not used to effective enough ends and feels more like a token presence, though trumpeter Michael White stands out with his sizzling moments of melodic madness. Yes, the beats skit around and have a cool, fluid feel, but there is an inescapable feeling that it didn't take much sweat to churn out this fashionable release. Safely good, safely forgettable. Now, where's the decent cup of coffee with a genuine kick? (Nutone)