Nathaniel Merriweather Presents . . .

Lovage: Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By (75 Ark)

Each of Dan the Automator's high-profile concept albums has been a palimpsest, a new work with remnants of his earlier records shining through. Even a cursory listen to Dan's get-together with Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Kid Koala in Deltron 3030 reveals concepts from his Kool Keith-abetted Dr. Octagon project. His Gorillaz disc often overlaps with Deltron, and Lovage: Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By savors skits and themes first suggested on Dan's Handsome Boy Modeling School outing.

The Automator (alias Nathaniel Merriweather), though, is able to push his continuing saga of complex beats and quirky outtakes further still on Lovage through his brilliance as a talent broker. This time around, he adds the smoldering duo of Mike Patton (Faith No More/Fantomas/Mr. Bungle) and Jennifer Charles (Elysian Fields) on vocals. The result is a Portisheady, kinda Love Unlimited Orchestra-esque score for pseudo-pimping hip-hop boys trying to get their old ladies to that next level.

Dan's not-so-secret fetish for pop-leaning ditties (as opposed to stripped-down tracks) is betrayed in the accompanying booklet, which prominently lists the lyrics over the backdrop of sappy "Deep Thoughts" nature photos. And the album's standout, the achingly kitschy love ballad "Anger Management," might even rival the Gorillaz's "Clint Eastwood" on the charts, if Patton's voice weren't quite so unnervingly operatic. Another oddball sure shot is "Herbs, Good Hygiene & Socks," which features old-school hip-hop dignitary/freakazoid Afrika Bambaataa's advice for attracting women: "Wash your ass, every day/Wash your whole body, every day." Far less uneven than the Deltron or Gorillaz records, but not a classic like his breakthrough Dr. Octagon concept piece, Lovage should impress open-minded hip-hoppers and pop fans alike.