Various Artists

Barramundi: Introduction to a Cooler World - The First Barramundi Sampler

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Ah, 1994. Those were the days, weren't they? Tired of being slapped around by clubland techno, you just wanted electronic music to stay in the background and serenade as you and yours padded around the kitchen or made love on a pallet set up in front of the stereo speakers. Most of the artists in "the ambient music division" of this particular label apparently mastered the art of staying alongside the action -- and the first third of this compilation carries a nice, mild, erotic charge. Synthesized woodwinds dominate the beats, so that Jaydee's "Think for a While" with its breezy flutes and Melt's "Sunsailor" with its bubbling synths are respectively the setup and throwdown for Man-Delo's "Shomyo." The reverbed percussion, lone reverbed vocal, and two blissful flute harmonies put a spell on you precisely because J.M. Lederman and Carl Johansen (aka Man-Delo) try to see what they can get away with in the background. The two losers -- "2000" by the Joey Morton X-Perience and Karma De La Luna's curiously named "Genius" -- are background, mellow wastes of coated aluminum. Of course, "mellow waste" might fairly characterize the whole album. But where's the challenge in dissing that? Speaking of getting away with something in the background, even that stupid voice-over in the Rapino Brothers' "Go Ahead London" doesn't mess up its sultry rhythm and multi-layered flute hooks. "Everybody everywhere" can have fun replacing "go ahead London-nah" with "go ahead Urbana," "go ahead Kissimmee," or "go ahead Atlanta" as the center of "every religion" and "every culture."

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