Various Artists

Easy Tempo, Vol. 2: The Psycho Beat

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This follow-up to the trendsetting Italian lounge music compilation Easy Tempo, Vol. 1 differs from its predecessor by narrowing its stylistic focus. Subtitled "The Psycho Beat," Easy Tempo, Vol. 2 focuses on short, punchy instrumentals that have a psychedelic bent to them. For a compilation that is considered to be lounge, a lot of the tracks on this disc are surprisingly heavy and rock-oriented: Nino De Luca's "La Ragazza Con La Pistola" is a sitar-oriented track beefed up by hard-hitting drum fills, fuzz guitar, and an out-of-control voice screeching "girl with the gun!," while Mario Molino's "Jerk Beat" layers disorienting waves of guitar feedback and distorted keyboards over a frantic, fast-paced drum beat. Much of this music sounds like it was most likely designed for suspense sequences or drug-related freak-out scenes. Thankfully, heavy-hitting tracks like these are paced by moodier instrumentals that convey the same level of tension with softer sounds: Gianni Oddi's "Geronimo" presents a synth-layered funk groove that is disrupted by honking saxophone and tribal-style drum breaks, while Piero Umiliani's "Fotomodelle" uses a combination of cooing female vocals and grunting male vocals to sketch out its melody over a mid-tempo, organ-laced groove. Unfortunately, Easy Tempo, Vol. 2 fails to be as interesting as its predecessor because its narrow focus trades the fun surprises that dotted the first volume for a sense of consistency that makes it less exciting in comparison. Also, its focus on disorienting sounds makes it a less comfortable listen overall. Despite these problems, the majority of the tracks on Easy Tempo, Vol. 2 make solid listening for lounge buffs, and those already fond of the Italian lounge sound will find plenty to enjoy here.

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