Various Artists

Irma Chill Out Café, Vol. 2

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The advertising logo on all the volumes in this chill-out series is "Music for lounge music lovers...to listen to." They have a point in that much of what services for chill-out music is just downtempo as an extension of the dancefloor or soul-jazz masquerading as electronica. As for the music, like most comps there is a smattering of truly wonderful tracks inserted between some mediocre ones and downright bad ones. Here, the best stuff -- Skin 4's "Asia Experience" with it's Chinese erhu winding through the mix, Tito Valdez's "Baila" with its counterpoint drum effects, and Science Force's "Statik Flowers" with its minimalist loops and midi beat -- becomes a listening excursion capable of taking one somewhere. As for the soul-jazz contingent here, which are good choices for what they are: 2 Men 4 Soul's "Spread Your Sax" has Grover Washington's Mister Magic written all over it in the alto saxophone and bass phrasing, which is quite cool; Gazzara's "Gato" captures the South American saxophonist's spirit in the postmodern context he can't seem to latch onto himself despite trying very hard; and Be Noir's "Give Me Your Love" has a gorgeous Brazilian samba piano vamp that makes the entire track an excursion into mid-tempo vocal bossa. As for the rest of the electronica here, there's disco and house that has nothing to do with chill out: DJ Rodriguez's "Disco Boo," Kekkotronics and LTJ Bukhem's "Gimme the Funk," Dust's "Talking City," and the solid but grooved-out "Going in Circles" by Tameka Starr. The rest are worthless exercises in excess and futility.

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