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Felix da Housecat/Miss Kittin 

Devin Dazzle and the Neon Fever (Emperor Norton)/I.com(Astralwerks)

Chicago DJ/producer Felix da Housecat paid his dues for years in the underground scene before exploding like a well-timed volcano with his 2001 release Kittenz and Thee Glitz, which featured the oversexed electro-chanteuse Miss Kittin. He started off as a real house cat at 14, had hits in Europe at 17, and at 30 garnered acclaim, ironically, from the very jet-setters he mocked. With Devin Dazzle and the Neon Fever, Felix moves away from club cuts, hiring live musicians and exploring song-oriented post-new-wave nuance. Space-echo effects swim around girl-group vocal stylings on "Rocket Ride," and Tyrone Palmer works with Felix to create the synth-heavy, romantic, shoulder-shrugging "Ready 2 Wear." Felix plays keys on this release, showing off his Prince influence with funky bass lines and sexy lyrics. Devin's heat melts icy synth into a more soulful mold.

On her first proper solo release, Thee Glitz collaborator Miss Kittin bends ears by shedding the deadpan-diva title. She actually sings, albeit cerebrally, on the glitch-pop beaut "Happy Violentine." "Professional Distortion" shakes things up from the get-go with warped guitar and bass drops galore; the song is Miss Kittin's answer to the demands of success: "I have to pretend to pretend, I have to shine, I have to sign." Kittin cohort the Hacker comes back on "Soundtrack of Now," adding intense atmospherics over Dopplereffekt beats. She gets all ghetto house on "Requiem for a Hit," then hijacks your head for the witty and intriguing "Clone Me." By her own admission, Kittin's career is not about educating the audience, but listen closely: Knowledge drips with each blip.

More by Melody Caraballo

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