Various Artists

Windham Hill: The First Ten Years

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Windham Hill: The First Ten Years is a retrospective celebrating the artists and artistry of the pioneering new age label's first full decade. And while the label's compilation release schedule is brisk to say the least, this two-disc set features at least one track from anyone who's ever recorded for the imprint's main new age division. It's heavy on tasteful contemporary instrumentalists like pensive guitar virtuosos Alex de Grassi and Robbie Basho or pianist George Winston; in between, there's some understated, almost ambient electronica from Mark Isham and a few gems from lesser-known Windham artists. The comp is essential for anyone who has been with the label since the beginning, as it offers a look back while providing a nicely varied new age soundtrack (the songs are sequenced perfectly). Windham Hill: The First Ten Years will also appeal to listeners curious about the label, since it can be a chore sifting through its glut of mood-themed compilations to find a decent introductory set.

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