Short Cuts

Eighteenth Street Lounge Music Presents, Monty Alexander, DJ Icey

DJ Icey spins in Fort Lauderdale on December 26 as part of the Candyland IV party at the Chili Pepper (200 W. Broward Blvd.), which also features sets by Baby Anne, Simply Jeff, Diesel Boy, and Kimball Collins. See "Concerts For the Week" for details.

Various Artists
Eighteenth Street Lounge Music Presents: Easy Tempo
(Eighteenth Street Lounge Music)

Various Artists
Jet Society
(Eighteenth Street Lounge Soundtracks)

The trip-hop/acid-jazz duo known as Thievery Corporation has been busy of late, producing remixes for David Byrne and Stereolab, among others. The pair (Rob Garza and Eric Hilton) has also been hard at work parlaying its Eighteenth Street Lounge brand into a mini-hipster empire, with a Washington, D.C. nightclub and a couple of record labels. This pair of compilations showcases the tandem's good taste in music, as well as their self-appointed roles as ambassadors of cool.

The lounge music revival has gotten past the trendy, kitschy stage; thank god nobody quotes Swingers anymore. From the sounds of the funky French (Air, Daft Punk) to the dance-pop spy theme tunes of Japan's Pizzicato Five, musicians are blending the cosmopolitan swankness of the '50s with the innovations of electronica. The laid-back, global tracks of Jet Society serve as a world sampler. Spooky female cooing mimics a theremin, rising and falling over a mishmash of bossa nova on Italian Nicola Conte's "Bossa Per Due." It has the kind of funky organ groove and lock step shuffle drumming that could be 30 years old or brand new. What gives the song's vintage away are the hovering keyboards and the diverse electronic effects on the percussion.

The wispy female vocals, Brazilian rhythms, and bright brass of Stereo Action Unlimited's "Hi-Fi Trumpet" may come from a different country than "Bossa Per Due," but the overarching theme is a mellow groove, with jazzy undertones. That the lyrics are in foreign languages only adds to the allure: It's not what they're saying, but how they say it.

Lounge is more of an attitude than a strictly defined sound, and the genre is elastic enough to include the instrumental Italian cinema music compiled on Easy Tempo, named for the Italian label that originally released the tracks. Many of the film-score selections on this compendium have that element of funky sleaziness that American cop-show soundtracks delved into in the mid-'70s. It's easy to picture Starsky and Hutch cruising in the Gran Torino as Stefano Torrosi's "Fearing Much" adds to the suspense. Violins stutter over bongos and a rhythm section with more than a gun in its pocket.

Because the disc features mostly film scores, its tracks tend to serve as good background music. Still, the complexities of Piero Umiliani's psychedelic "Lady Magnolia" deserves full-volume play. The Latin-tinged percussion, breathy flute, and squeaky analog synthesizer capture the same type of stoned groove of Jet Society, only more organically and libidinously. -- David Simutis

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