Stéphane Pompougnac

Best of Hotel Costes

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It's not often that a compilation series gets or deserves a "best-of," but here's a case where the idea works. The cool, relaxed, slick, and very cosmopolitan Hotel Costes series was seven volumes deep at the time of their "best-of," and while the prior volumes have built a solid fan base, newcomers might be overwhelmed by where to start. You could decide which cover model -- pouty French women all -- best suits you, or you could start here with a well-chosen representation of the tres chic soft dance music the Hotel Costes series is known for. Stéphane Pompougnac -- the DJ behind the series -- does less mixing than usual on this overview, but Hotel Costes has always been more about flow than DJ theatrics. The flow on Best Of is smooth and satisfying, with Pompougnac breaking up his light house music with European worldbeat (plenty of accordions, as usual) and taking the unusual route of building things down -- rather than up -- as the mix progresses. Great way to end your urbanite day, and Pompougnac's unheard mix of Madonna's "What It Feels Like for a Girl" tacked onto the end brings things to a warm, lush close. Despite names like Madonna and Shirley Bassey, music is still background at the Hotel Costes and divas calmly blend into the cushy songs along with everything else. Still, the Hotel Costes series has taste and style, and packs as much deepness into background music as the wallpaper genre can hold. If you haven't been hipped to it, start here.

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