Various Artists

Cafeteria: Hear

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Since he's usually associated with the pounding house music of his Club 69 project and remixing the likes of Cher and Whitney Houston, the idea of a down-tempo compilation from Peter Rauhofer seems misdirected. Released in conjunction with the sexy Miami and New York City eatery Cafeteria, Hear is deeper and smarter than expected. Rauhofer lays out more vocal tracks than most comps of this type, choosing more straight-ahead but atmospheric tracks over abstract and trippy ones. If the disc doesn't work for background music, it's only because the strength and attractiveness of some tracks demand more attention than the usual chill-out selections. An especially luscious Rauhofer collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys on their version of Raze's house classic "Break 4 Love" pulls new emotions out of the original, Lydia Rhodes' take on Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" is also sweet and delicious. When Rauhofer's mix of Yoko Ono's "Walking on Thin Ice" emerges out of the excellent and surprise choice of Kool & the Gang's "Summer Madness," it's an insightful and illuminating moment that validates the DJ's excursion into music more introspective than usual. A bit of filler keeps Hear from being indispensable, but who would have thought Rauhofer could provide such a gratifying headphone journey?

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