Mark Riva


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When a listener insists that he/she dislikes electronica in general, the listener might be speaking the truth -- perhaps he/she really does have a distaste for all forms of electronica. Period. But in many cases, those who claim to dislike all electronica actually do appreciate some forms of electronica; someone who doesn't care for techno might like chillout or downtempo music, but associates the term electronica with the harsher forms of rave music (which, like free jazz and death metal, is definitely an acquired taste). The point is that electronica is quite vast and diverse -- and someone who doesn't care for one type of electronica might have a much easier time getting into another. Those who fancy the smoother side of electronica will have an easy time getting into Sungrooves, which focuses on downtempo, house, and chillout, and sometimes incorporates Brazilian and Caribbean elements. This CD finds DJ/producer Mark Riva providing a nonstop 78-minute dance mix, and the ambiance that prevails is smooth and sleek yet consistently rhythmic. Riva uses repetition wisely; musical hypnosis was obviously the goal, and the grooves that he chooses -- which range from Russ Gabriel's "Second Summer" to P'taah's "Staring at the Sun" -- tend to be dreamy and exuberant at the same time. Sungrooves is a perfect example of congenial, feel-good escapism for the dance floor, and what Riva does on this release is arguably an early 2000s equivalent of the dance-and-be-happy aesthetic that club hounds expected from Chic in the late '70s, or Inner City and Soul II Soul in the late '80s and early '90s. Those who are intimidated by the more abrasive forms of electronica needn't be fearful of Sungrooves, which is a pleasing -- if rather predictable -- example of how lush electronic club music can be.

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