Sven Van Hees


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Don't be scared by the brightly colored digipack and the occasionally ridiculous song titles. This isn't 140-beats-per-minute house or techno for a South American island-of-decadence party. It's beautiful chill-out music for the beautiful chill-out crowd. Connoisseurs of downtempo may be familiar with Sven Van Hees (aka Ramon Serrano) and his single "Tsunami (Inside My Soul)" from such notable compilations as Transatlantik Lounging 2, Comfort Zone 2, and Served Chilled 2. Gemini, Van Hees's foray into the realm of full-lengths, elevates him from one-off compilation act to revered artist and DJ. And the acclaim is well deserved. Gemini melds light jazz and bossa nova influences with laid-back beats and a startling array of instruments to create a vibe perfect for a lazy day on the beach or a quiet evening at the local velvet-roped lounge. Contradicting its name, "Tsunami (Inside My Soul)" features gently lapping waves over standup bass and a sultry horn riff. Even the wistful spoken thoughts, possibly stolen from a young film student's first short, can't poison this subliminal groove. "Flute Salad" and "Islamorada Fishing Company" would fit nicely into a Thievery Corporation or Kruder & Dorfmeister mix. "Serrano Anthem (Amor/Amor)" approaches erotica, as the interplay between various sounds seems to bring a woman to a sort of spiritual orgasm. Van Hees instills his music with longing and (sometimes overt) sexuality. To these ends, attempts to be lyrically deep or clever sometimes come off as merely amateurish. But this minor shortcoming should be quickly overlooked. Gemini is much more about mood than message, and the mood will carry the listener away.

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