Peter Gabriel and Adam Ant have led a movement to integrate ancient African rhythms and imagery with the hi-tech rock of synthesizers and electric guitars.
On Gabriel's fourth solo album, "Security," half the record drowns under ponderous dirges while the other half breaks free.
Ant's tendency to overwork concepts has always battled his essential silliness. On his new record, "Friend or Foe," Ant has simply made an enjoyably silly pop album.
Gabriel's songs describe tribal cultures' natural connections and contrast them with industrial alienation. His stylized, detached vocals reflect the alienation much more convincingly than the connectedness.
Gabriel uses a Linn drum machine to achieve the rhythms he wants, often employing the Indonesian gamelan beat so prominent on King Crimson's "Beat." Gabriel gives in a bit to the seductive rhythms on "I Have the Touch" -- significantly, a song about breaking through detachment -- then submits on the delightful dance number "Shock the Monkey."
Adam Ant was Malcolm McLaren's first big breakthrough after he engineered the Sex Pistols' success. Ant has now broken with McLaren-type hype; he strikes back at those tactics on his new album with several songs such as "Crackpot History" and "The Right to Lie." He has has a new partner, greaser guitarist Marco Pirroni, and the collaboration has yielded Ant's best yet, a showcase of his catchy melodies and snappy dance beats.
There's almost no African influence left in Ant's music; the new record is rooted in early pop-rock. Pirroni's rockabilly guitar, Ant's teen-dream voice and the bright arrangements make it quite appealing. After his past pronouncements on tribalism and the "antmusic" movement, what is Ant's current state of mind? "Desperate but not serious/ Your kisses drive me delirious." ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUMS PETER GABRIEL Security (Geffen GHS 2011). ADAM ANT Friend or Foe (Epic ARE 38370). THE SHOWS GABRIEL -- at the Warner Sunday at 8. ANT -- at the Wax Museum Monday at 9.