Various Artists

Afterhours: Global Underground

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The second installment in the Global Underground label's Afterhours series is, if anything, more ambitious than the original 2002 collection was, while still maintaining its focus on dark, relatively chilled-out sounds. This isn't so much club music as post-club music -- a soundtrack for whatever activities you might wish to engage in after a long night of dancing. This means grooves that are funkier than what you might find in the chillout room, but not so funky as to compel you back onto the dancefloor, either. On the first disc this means lots of ambient soundscapes -- in fact, you'll get to the fifth track on the program (7 Hurtz's "3 Sisters") before you encounter anything that really resembles a beat. After that, things sway back and forth between lush, arrhythmic washes of sound ("Deep Listening" by Penumbra) and slow, glitchy funk ("Steppin" by Boxsaga) along with the occasional weird appropriation of an old jazz standard ("I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" by Burnt Friedman). On disc two, you start to encounter slowly rolling dubwise reggae -- most effectively on Colder's brilliant "One Night in Tokyo" and Cotton Belly's funky "Tempest Dub." Contributions from Primal Scream, Rockers Hi-Fi, and Psychonauts keep things interesting as well. Then there's the companion DVD, which offers short films to accompany five additional tracks. Not all the tracks will hold your attention, but enough of them will to make this collection a solid value for the money -- and some music that doesn't grab your attention at first will grow on you. Recommended.

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