Neneh Cherry has floated between underground acclaim and pop stardom. (For a heady bit of time travel, check out 1988's "Buffalo Stance," one of the first songs to make pop music out of rap.) She's gone decades without releasing an album, but when she does, it matters. Most recently, Cherry paid tribute to her jazz roots (her father was Don Cherry) on an album on which she also covered songs by the Stooges, Suicide, and Madvillain. In her hands, that stylistic car crash ended up seductive and deep.

But Blank Project (coming in February), produced by Four Tet, is something else: minimalist club garage funk --- a soul record that will rip your eardrums a new one. Cherry stopped by the studio recently to perform two songs from the album. These are Cherry's first live performances of the material anywhere, with Alexis Georgopoulos (bass) and TJ Maiani (drums). Her conversation with Kurt Andersen will air in February.

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