De Phazz Best of: Beyond Lounge

De-Phazz are Germany's answer to a heartfelt break from the sometimes pallid sounds of lounge music or the coldness of Euro trance and techno. With five albums under their belt, Beyond Lounge is a delectable sampling of 16 tracks, evenly picked from their 1999 to 2001 releases Godsdog, Detunized Gravity, and Death by Chocolate. The Heidelberg outfit consists of producers Pit Baumgartner, Barbara Lahr, Otto Engelhard and vocalist Karl Freirson, who also turn to open ensembles and vocalists such as gospel singer Charity D. Sanders and Pat Appleton for additional layers. Their feel is distinctly inspired by sounds across the Atlantic, in the warmer climes of Cuba and Latin America. The opening track "The Mambo Craze" speaks for itself. Opening with lush strings and a crackly old film dialogue, its chunky trumpets, timbale and airy percussion sounds are offset by jazzed up vocals. In counterpart, "Jeunesse Doree" is a sensual, rhythmic salute to bossa nova and one almost expects Bebel Gilberto to slip in for a vocal cameo appearance. "Something Special" is a tease, with its French pop feel and quirky lines ("I'll be faithful, like Lady Chatterley.") But the upbeat, hip-swinging sounds are compiled with tracks of a more melancholic variety. Take "Roses" or "Cut the Jazz," which retreat into a trip-hop like lull, its mournful vocals partially reminiscent of the evocative mood Beth Gibbons mastered so well. There is quite literally a bit of everything in this "best of" collection. It's an apt introduction to this Heidelberg outfit and a fantastic listen cutting across genres. (United)