Staring at the Sun

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Chris Brann has one of the best reputations of any in the chill-out-house crowd, earned from a decade of warm, laid-back productions charting the progression of jazz-dance music -- first as Wamdue Project but also as P'taah. Staring at the Sun doesn't see much of a change in Brann's formula; vaguely organic and faintly groovy, it's a set of same-sounding grooves that merely float along a pleasant ambience, but with little focus. It's certainly not a simple record, though. Brann specializes in making complex dance music with an inviting sound, blending difficult time signatures with keys on broken-beat features like "Late Night Sun" and "Staring at the Sun." An assortment of guests help out by adding guitar, sax, Moog, and Fender Rhodes, while vocalist Terrance Downs lends some Brazilian groove to the opener "Become Who You Are" and Sylvia Gordon has an early-'70s space jazz vibe on "Nobody Knows." It's the classic trap of the highly specialized dance producer: Over the course of an album, these songs blend into each other to the point where they become indistinguishable. In the context of a DJ's mix album, though, quite a few would stand out.

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