Various Artists

Chillounge

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Lounge music is pretty much chilled-out by definition, but chillout music is not necessarily loungey. This collection achieves both states simultaneously, for better or worse, by combining the slow, funky grooves of trip-hop and nu-jazz with wanky wah-wah guitars, slinky pan-European vocals, and the occasional dollop of syrupy strings. It's a blend of debonair fabulousness and refined club-crawler funk that goes down quite nicely, sometimes with a little giggle. What's strange is how often these tracks will blend adventurous elements with mundane ones, sometimes to gently exciting effect and sometimes less so. "Expand Your Mind," by the Italian outfit No Noise, opens with artfully wielded backward guitar, which is then followed by rather banal vocals; Jasmon's "Delight," on the other hand, is built around a simplistic yet surprisingly effective strings arrangement. "Sonhando Ipanema," by Barriere, is a brilliant exposition of gentle Euro-Brazilian funk with heavy 1970s overtones, while AL-PHA-X's "Solar Ascension (Chilled & Lush Mix)" evokes Cocteau Twins even as it melts back and forth between jungle and trip-hop modes. Overall, this is a very nice overview of one segment of the Euro-electronica scene.

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