Various Artists

Nordic Lounge

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Nordic Lounge does indeed feature exclusively Scandinavian artists. Swell Session (aka Andreas Saag), for example, operates out of Gothenburg, Sweden, while the duo Xploding Plastix are running a downtempo cottage industry in their native Norway, winning that country's version of a Grammy for 2001's Amateur Girlfriends Go Proskirt Agents (from which this collection's "6 Hours Starlight" is taken). Still, there's little to distinguish Nordic Lounge from its shockingly numerous peers in your local shop's stack of stylishly appointed downtempo comps. The set's clean, dully opaque beats click off at a uniform per-minute rate; absolutely nothing is out of the ordinary. But while this metronomic sense of cool makes for a satisfactorily chill mood, it can also be interminable. Sunday Brunch's "Honung" is capable enough with a patter of programmed jazz-house percussion and the warm keys of an organ driving the melody. But the track seems to last twice as long as its listed five-minute duration, and it's only an appetizer for the nearly identical organ and chattering beats of Butti's "Kalas." Nordic Lounge continues like this, alternating wan beats and shallow grooves with comparatively more interesting material, such as Nuspirit Helsinki's "Take It Back," which despite its eight-minute length manages to hold attention. In the end, despite flashes of fleeting brightness (Dalmingo's warm "Bossa Note"), Nordic Lounge needs more than its geographic affiliation to stand out from the pack. It's not a bad collection, and it's true that this music doesn't necessarily need to stand out, and might not even want to. But that doesn't make it any more memorable.

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