Shine: Operatica, Vol. 2

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From the moment the beat strikes early on the first track, it's difficult not to equate Operatica with a pair of evocative dance-fusion producers ten years past, Enigma and Deep Forest. The songs on Shine are reliant on the same mishmash of mid-tempo trip-hop beats, acid house effects, and worldbeat textures (cribbed from Ireland to India) to drive them. This, the second volume in a series of dance/opera crossovers helmed by Operatica (the work of one Lord Vanger and "additional programmer" Aaron Jaffe), consists of a smattering of romantic pieces -- by Grieg, Bizet, and Debussy -- along with a pair of Persian folk tunes and several by Vanger himself, who feels compelled to list his dates "(1968-)" along with the other composers. Thanks mostly to the vocalists featured, however, many of these tracks succeed overall; the crystal tones of Ying Huang animate the opener, "Solvejg's Song" (even while the arrangement lags far behind), and Vanger himself displays considerable talents as a vocalist, with a pure high tenor that really does shine on "Standing on the Edge of the World" and "Under the Desert Sky."

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