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Recording under the name Echostar, Bowery Electric alumna Martha Schwendener makes her debut appearance on the Shadow label with this gently impressive but not quite perfect blend of dreamy atmospherics, breathy vocals, and polite beats. On "Outside," she combines an almost subliminal percussion pulse with what sound a bit like Jon Hassell-style treated trumpets; "Can't Say Why" is funkier and more insistent, but still not that insistent, and "Higher" is more diffident still, with its barely-audible vocals and practically subliminal breakbeat. If you're after stylistic diversity, this album is not for you. It would be fair to say that these songs all sound the same, but that's not a criticism -- you could say the same about most reggae, hardcore, and swing albums, and some of them are wonderful. Echostar is brilliant at creating her particular brand of warm and gentle dance music; and if you like the first track you're going to like the rest of the album just as much. There's something to be said for that kind of consistency.

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