Mourned by lots of people who don't identify primarily as fans of African music, Ali Farka Touré died in early March at the age of 67, just months after the release of a delicate, dizzying album made with kora player Toumani Diabaté. Light and lilting—and intimate enough to make bashful listeners blush—In The Heart Of The Moon (Nonesuch) clears lots of room for Touré's nimble guitar playing. It's a testament to his grounding that he leaves much of that room alone, filling in isolated voids with sketches that suggest as much as they declare… B+

The latest single from an ace Animal Collective album that continues throwing out hooks and hammers five months after its release, Grass (Fat Cat) comes packaged with a CD including two unreleased songs, and more importantly, a DVD with four videos. The visual spot for "Grass" shows the band playing in what looks like the saturated center of a nuclear blast, while a more fanciful one for "Who Could Win A Rabbit?" treks to the woods behind a hare with eerie teeth and a hungry tortoise in a mood. The highlight is a six-minute remix collage (of audio, too) pieced together by Brian DeGraw of Gang Gang Dance… B

It's no secret that men in Viking costumes generally have a lot to offer, but Moondog remains an exceptional case. A blind musician and mystic who haunted the streets of New York for decades, he was one of those "outsider artists" who make serious contributions to their field without making a big show of it. The Viking Of Sixth Avenue (Honest Jon's/Astralwerks) gathers much of his best work, covering everything from shuffling animal-jazz to the timeless, airy rounds he played on harpsichord. Oh, those rounds!… B+


Too easily laughed away for its infamous covers of Madonna, The Whitey Album (Geffen) by Ciccone Youth (read: Sonic Youth plus a few friends) sounds unduly twisted and strange on a reissue made to rescue the curio from 1988. Hissing electronic beats chopping through familiar clouds of guitar noise, plus odd swerves into funk, tape-loop comedy, and, indeed, Madonna, make Sonic Youth sound viscerally live and squirmy. This is a record that could have been cold-rocking Ariel Pink's ninth birthday party. B+