Various Artists

UltraDolce, Vol. 2

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Where else can listeners go to find a drum'n'bass version of the old spaghetti chestnut "Volare," complete with a spooky, vocoderized reading of the vocals? For better or worse, there are very few labels that would attempt this sort of brand-new-retro sound, and Irma La Douce leads the pack. This sleazy-listening collection includes 18 tracks -- each by a different producer -- of bossa-nova rhythms, multiple organ solos, and that quintessentially breezy continental air. This second volume in the UltraDolce series again proves that there must be dozens of Italian producers who've been slipped the required dosage -- albums by Pizzicatto Five, Fatboy Slim, Tony Hatch, and Astrud Gilberto, plus several old synthesizer novelty records -- to produce this many tracks. Another surprising thing is that many of these tracks are excellent. Though not many are able to escape the pure silliness of their origins, each one is impeccably arranged, impeccably played, and quite inventive. Highlights include the aforementioned "Volare" by Montefiori Cocktail, "Bow Wow" by Tommy Bass, "Flaminio Zagato" by Sam Paglia, a jazzanova remix of "Metti una Sera a Cena" by Balanço, and "Kill Them All" by Doris Troy. Many of Irma La Douce's compilations are hit-and-miss (and mostly miss), but the UltraDolce series has put Italy's new-wave-of-easy scene on a par with Japan's.

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