dZihan & Kamien

Gran Riserva

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So many production acts in the wide world of electronica have pursued a fusion of downbeat house and Brazilian/Indian forms that what was perfectly acceptable for good music during the mid-'90s had become passé by the new millennium. Though they're not in the stratosphere of music-making occupied by fellow Europeans Jazzanova and Kruder & Dorfmeister, Viennese production duo dZihan & Kamien are quite good, and their second LP shows them refining their approach while seeking the nocturnal vibes preferred by many dance fans by 2002. Gran Riserva also displays a stylistic restlessness that sees the pair trying their hand at a variety of sounds, and succeeding on nearly every count -- whether they're summoning sweeping Indian strings for the epic "Ford Transit," sampling-stuttered female lounge akin to Herbert on "Basmati," samba by subtraction on "Stiff Jazz," or reggae chatting over a sleek, horn-driven disco track on "Sliding." As with most other electronic producers, dZihan & Kamien could benefit from an emphasis on quality control (the LP slows down on the back end), and their songwriting skills aren't as solid as their production expertise, but Gran Riserva rises far above the norm for fusion-driven dance music.

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