various artists,
Cafe Lounge
(Neurodisc, 2003)

Any of you who are familiar with my reviews probably know that I tend to rave about Putumayo compilations. I thought nobody could touch their talent at picking out songs. I might have been wrong -- at least for one compilation CD. Cafe Lounge, released by Neurodisc, definitely rivals Putumayo's Euro Lounge and World Lounge collections.

What makes Cafe Lounge a little distinct, however, is that the music is completely presented from a female perspective. All 13 tracks have female vocals on them. The music is, according to the promo material, "a global fusion of addictively hip lounge music inspired by world beat, deep house and organic ambient grooves ... the perfect aural backdrop for everyday life."

If I have one problem with this CD, it certainly isn't with any of the music itself. My issue would have to be with the title of the collection. Cafe Lounge is a little misleading in that many of the tracks really aren't lounge as much as dance/electronica/club. Sure, a lot of the tracks have a repetitive, almost zone-out quality that lounge is known for, but just as many tracks will take over your body if you aren't careful! My point is, the music is good, in some cases damn good. But it isn't 100 percent true lounge.

"My Angel (Beach Mix)" by Alex Bartlett is easily a favorite. Don't confuse this Alex Bartlett with the foreign Minister of the Solomon Islands. I'm not sure where this one is from, but (s)he knows how to create a great track. This trance/techno tune has some great guitar riffs. What will grab you the most, however, will be the vocals. With only basic promo material and no liner notes to speak of, I don't know if Alex is male or female or who the singer is if it isn't Alex. Even a search online didn't produce a hit with any additional information other than the name of another 12" release. Too bad because I, for one, would like to hear more!

More great vocals can be heard on Heavenly Creatures' "River of Dreams." At least in this case, I know the lead vocals are by Ysah. This song fits in the lounge genre with its trance like beat and Ysah's sexy voice. With just a slight hint of an accent, her voice sends little shivers up my spine. She can sing to me in any lounge at any time.

The CD closes with "Autumn Interlude" by Amethystium. I've actually written a review about Amethystium's CD Aphelion, off which this track comes. Joyelle Brandi's vocals are too short on this track. Other than that, it is a great piece. Amethystium, in general, is worth looking in to. You should note, though, that Amethystium tunes are mostly instrumental with sampled chants and vocals at most.

Cafe Lounge is an excellent compilation CD with a bad title. I've tried to come up with a better title in the process of writing this review, but I can't. Regardless about my feelings for the name of this collection, I do think it is a worthy purchase. All the songs are worth mentioning in their own rights. The fact that I only knew one band out of 13 means I have a lot of research ahead of me finding out what else these bands have released. Perhaps you'll be just as lucky... or not, since I'm having trouble finding information about the artists. Isn't "finding" new bands fun? I love compilations....

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 13 September 2003

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