Various Artists

Stroboscopica, Vol. 1: Sonorizzazioni Psycho-Beat

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After the Easy Tempo compilation series popularized the subgenre of Italian lounge, other record labels got in the act with their own Italian lounge discs. This compilation takes a series of tracks from the archives of Cometa Records, an Italian label that specialized in soundtrack and lounge-oriented instrumental sounds. Subtitled "original b-movies soundtracks from Italian '70s psychedelic fiction," this disc serves up an plenty of stylish lounge music but suffers from the unfocused, grab-bag effect that often plagues similar compilations. Some of the inclusions on Stroboscopica are stronger on feel than they are on melodic content: Marc 4's "Matto Grosso" creates a likable rhythm section groove but substitutes weird percussion effects where a melody should be and Freedom Power's "Vortice" creates an effective sense of tension with its combination of ominous synths and insistent drums, but fails to take it anywhere. Also, some of the inclusions simply don't fit in with the composition's "cinematic" intentions: for instance, "Voleur" by I Gres is a bouncy novelty pop confection whose beeping synthesizer-derived sound doesn't sit comfortably alongside the funkier and moodier selections that make up much of the disc. Despite these problems, Stroboscopica still manages to offer up plenty of solid lounge tracks: I Gres' "Duo Balls" is a slick dance track propelled by subtle wah-wah guitars, and Pulsar Music Ltd's "Cat Theme" is a jazz-funk delight that marries swinging horns to an insistently rhythmic beat. Ultimately, Stroboscopica has enough memorable moments to make it worthwhile for the Italian lounge stalwarts but novices would be better off starting with a disc like Beretta 70.

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