Various Artists - Zen Lounge

by Elektrax Music

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about

Scour the Internet, and you’ll discover that “zen” is described as a direct, experiential realization of enlightenment through meditation. With this canny definition in mind, hats off to superlative Sydney-based label, Hypnotic Room, for achieving this state in just over an hour’s listening bliss.

It begins with the ethereal, vaguely aquatic wash of Zen Paradox’s ‘Tuna Head’, which segues into the gentlest of breaks and gradually soars over a terrain reminiscent of Vangelis.

Franck de Villeneuve’s ‘Mindtrip to the South’ continues the water refrain and tangentially goes for more of a dub/trip-hop/modern jazz angle, then the ever-cool Super Cozi tweaks some dreamy, bouncy acid and underlying vocals to mesmerizing effect.

Lili Hirakawa takes the baton (and the omnipresent water theme) on ‘Waterward’, a beautiful number that builds moment by moment, belying the rush of contemporary life, until it reaches a subtle crescendo that’s breath-taking.

Zen Paradox returns with the brilliant glitch-ambience of ‘Shon Spagnolia’, like Autechre with much less focus on the chaos side of things, a track that would be at home on any Basic Channel release, and Ginza Spy revives any flagging subconscious with the rhythmic, Asiatic ‘Osaka Night’, with its divine koto flavor, slow beats, and Japanese vocal samples.

Miruga then deposits the trip somewhere near Detroit, via Motorbass and Paris, with the dirty, huge, awesomely chilled groove of ‘Kame Dub’, and Deep Night continues the trend, going bigger still, with a chain of staggering, echoing drums and tinkering keys on ‘Sweet Paradise’ that somehow never break the chilled mood.

Zen Paradox brings the tone down a notch for some recovery time, with the quirky, playful sounds and a subversive groove on ‘Melanitis Leda’, a groove disrupted quite superbly by the arrival of the soaring opening refrain of Hideo Saito’s ‘White Solar Wizard’, and then settles into its own hypnotic acid sway beneath the higher points.

Little Nobody’s ‘Woklurk Orange’ goes more crunchy, reflective and vaguely melancholic. It starts off grainy and lo-fi, like a radio not quite in tune, with someone lazily and reflectively tinkering on a keyboard, before the kick itself slots in. And it’s a mighty kick - deep, powerful, spellbinding. The tempo may be slow, the haunting pads in the background might be moody and there may be ethereal, drifting moments to the track, but overall it’s a funky, sublime, Booka Shade-style piece that leaves you breathless.

Finally, the ball lands in Takashi Watanabe’s court. The man also known as the driving techno wizard, DJ Warp, here completely strips out the pace and goes for a track on the acidic slow-burn, swaying and revolving and gently building, adding elements like a master chef that chill out and enthrall.

It’s so good, it transcends the moment. All of which, together, leave you feeling somewhat enthralled.

(Track 13, Euro Girl by Deep Night is a Beatport exclusive for the first 8 weeks of this release).

- reviewed by Nina Nezvanova

credits

released February 24, 2009

Cat Number: hroom-cd002
featuring: Zen Paradox, Franck de Villeneuve, Super Cozi, Lili Hirakawa, Ginza Spy, Miruga, Deep Night, Hideo Saito, Little Nobody, Takashi Watanabe
Label: Hypnotic Room

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