Koop Islands

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Koop, the duo of Oscar Simonsson and Magnus Zingmark, seem to grasp what many other trip-hop production units never did -- that, no matter which instruments are used in your productions, digital or acoustic or electric, a sense of place is what should never be lost. Their debut album Waltz for Koop, with its languruous textures and tugging sense of melancholy, one-upped a parade of other deservedly recognized acts who had come in the wake of Air (groups like Royksopp, Zero 7, and Groove Armada). Koop Islands, the duo's first proper record in six years, is another quality collection of songs, with guest vocalists and the returning Yukimi Nagano usually providing exactly the right touch for each song (credit Koop for those personnel decisions). Ane Brun contributes the best, a swinging French chanson named "Koop Island Blues" with pining accordion and vibraphone (plus a devastating clarinet solo from Koop's Lindgren himself). Earl Zinger stops by to lighten the mood on two tracks, including a humorous "letter home" on the track "Beyond the Son." Part of what helps the pair stand apart is their instrumental prowess and obvious arranging talents; Koop Islands is one of the few records of the '90s and 2000s that has exactly the right atmosphere to suit trip-hop fans and all the ingredients for an excellent contemporary jazz record.

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