Christina Vantzou Nº2

Christina VantzouNº2
Kansas City-born, Brussels-based multimedia artist Christina Vantzou set expectations high with her 2011 debut album, Nº1, and it's doubtful anyone will be disappointed by the follow-up. Nº2 finds Vantzou again collaborating with Minna Choi (Magik*Magik Orchestra) and producer Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie (Stars of the Lid), but the ensemble she brought to San Francisco's Tiny Telephone studios this time around was expanded from a septet to a 15-piece, now including distinctive bassoon, oboe, wordless feminine vocals and a deeper string section.

The result is a more thoroughly composed and immersive neo-classical sound, toning down the use of electronic effects while maintaining the ethereal, evocative ambiance that made her debut so captivating. From the reflective piano0laced dirge of "Going Backwards to Recover What was Left Behind" to the humbly triumphant crescendo of "Sister," Nº2 runs the gamut of human emotion without ever feeling hurried. There's a whole lot of brilliance packed into these 35 minutes. Repeat listens are a must. (Kranky)