Various Artists

Stereo Deluxe Two

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Unlike Stereo Deluxe One, the German beat-freak label's previous various-artists compilation, Stereo Deluxe Two consists entirely of previously unreleased material -- either songs that were recorded especially for this collection (including Megablast's fine "My God Above" and BiggaBush's "Bells") or previously released songs in new remixes. This album can be strongly recommended to anyone looking for a good introduction to the Stereo Deluxe sound -- a thick, warm, smoky mix of languid hip-hop, experimental reggae, downtempo acid jazz, and sampladelic ambience. Highlights come from predictable places: the German crew Soul'n'Soda delivers a nice extended mix of "What Kind of Woman"; Mo'Horizons' "Gonna Be [Remix]" is a hot and funky retro-soul celebration; the Strike Boys collaborate with Emo on a rich reggae mix of "I Am a Witness"; the Funky Lowlives' remix of "Irreplaceable" manages somehow to be both smoothly jazzy and quirkily funky. The hidden track at the end (an untitled instrumental number by label founder Oli Roesch and DJ Sammy Majbour) isn't really worth waiting ten minutes for, but otherwise this is a consistently fine overview of one of Europe's best dance music labels.

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