Love Mysterious

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With his latest album, San Francisco club phenomenon Ryan Raddon (aka Kaskade) moves decisively out of the house music ghetto, a direction in which he's clearly been moving for a couple of years. He's always been at his best when using his bumping grooves and bright synthetic textures to coax lush and beautiful vocal performances out of his various guest singers, and songs are very much the focus on Love Mysterious. In fact, there are no straight instrumental tracks at all, and there are even some (gulp) guitars. The program opens prettily with the silky "Stars Align," featuring singer Marcus Bentley, and then shifts into a sort of gospelly mode with the ambiguously spiritual "Be Still." A couple of boring tracks near the middle (notably the static and enervating "Fake") threaten to bog things down, but the album goes out with a gentle roar on the final three tracks: another Marcus Bentley vehicle titled "Sometimes," a soft and subtle number called "4 AM" and, best of all, the gorgeous "Never Ending," which features singer Joslyn and acts as a showcase for the kind of thing that Raddon does best: sweetly cathartic, club-inflected dance-pop with both feet on the dancefloor and both ears pointed towards heaven. Highly recommended.

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