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Album Review

Riccardo Eberspacher is an Italian composer, producer, and arranger whose music has previously appeared on some of the Buddha Bar and Chill Out compilations. Information on him is scarce, but this would seem to be his debut recording. If you've been puzzled by the term lounge music, or if you ever idly wondered whatever happened to the new age music movement, this CD will give you some meaningful answers. In short, it will tell you that the best of the much-maligned new age genre has become sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and international, and has evolved into what is now called lounge. The 16 generous tracks on Voices are creamy, elegant, and hip. They don't intrude, but they offer at least 16 different kinds of ear candy: sultry vocalists both male and female (some with ethereal electronic enhancements), singing in a variety of languages; tasty mood jazz contributions from trumpet and sax; a lovely classical cello on the opening track; and an impressive variety of sampled material — traditional chanting, nature sounds, and some surprising guest spots by Timothy Leary and Richard Nixon, among others (fortunately, not on the same track). Eberspacher's mellow wash of synthetic strings and subtle but funky percussion backdrops provides the perfect comfy cushion for all this activity, with tinkling piano, tasty guitar licks, marimba, and even a sitar adding additional musical textures from time to time. One could quibble about a few of the vocal loops wearing out their welcome prematurely, but it would be otherwise pointless to criticize this CD, especially on the basis of its lack of depth and substance. Depth and substance are not the point. It's really all about mood, and Voices is a marvelously effective mood enhancer and reverie inducer, guaranteed to chill all but the most incorrigibly hyped-up tweaker. Favorites shouldn't really emerge on a program of this sort, where seamless continuity is a virtue, but both "Unforgettable" and "I Feel Love" include especially poignant melodies and vocal performances, while "Buana" ventures into trip-hop with some strong ethnic chanting and driving sitar riffs. The title track is also noteworthy for its spacy and thought-provoking use of historic vocal samples, including the unfortunate Mr. Nixon. No doubt about it, Eberspacher is clearly a master of the lounge genre, and this is gorgeous evidence of his abilities.

Voices, Riccardo Eberspacher
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