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Lost Sunset Lounge (Online Version)

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Album Review

Historically, the independent labels that have made a difference and developed passionately loyal followings were the ones that carved out a real identity for themselves. Whether their main focus was jazz (Blue Note, Impulse!, CTI, Prestige, Contemporary), soul (Stax, Motown, Hot Wax/Invictus), Chicago blues (Chess), salsa (Fania), dance-pop (Salsoul, TSR), or industrial (Wax Trax), the indie labels (or at least independent in the beginning) that had an impact were the ones that projected a vision, an identity, and a sense of purpose. And if their 2003 and 2004 releases are any indication, the independent Kriztal Entertainment certainly isn't suffering from an identity crisis. Kriztal's specialty is a kinder, gentler approach to electronica; in contrast to the abrasive, in-your-face aggression of techno, many of Kriztal's chillout, downtempo, acid jazz, and ambient releases have favored sexy seduction rather than confrontation. In many respects, Charles Afton's Lost Sunset Lounge is exactly what one had come to expect from Kriztal by early 2004 — Afton's electronica is funky and rhythmic, but it is also smooth, polished, lush, and sleek. And at the same time, this instrumental disc isn't without grit. Anyone who expects Lost Sunset Lounge to have the unmitigated tranquillity of new age will be disappointed — producer/composer Afton is way too energetic and backbeat-minded to give listeners a new age experience. Arguably, a CD like Lost Sunset Lounge is to instrumental electronica what Chic was to disco-soul in the late '70s — Afton is funky in a decidedly uptown way — but unlike a typical Chic song, Afton's electronic grooves don't adhere to a traditional chorus/verse/chorus/verse format. Lost Sunset Lounge isn't the best CD that Kriztal put out in 2004, but it's a decent, pleasantly noteworthy example of the company's softer approach to electronica.

Lost Sunset Lounge (Online Version), Charles Afton
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