Claude Challe

Claude Challe

Nirvana Lounge 02

Chall’ O Music / Wagram

Admittedly, living in DC this past year has been a bit stressful: a plane crashing into the Pentagon, a recession, anthrax letters, John Ashcroft as one’s attorney general, a mayor too incompetent to get his own name on his party’s ballot, and now a sniper. The need to chill is paramount.

At first this double CD was doing everything but. Frustrating me and making me too anxious to sit still, the first disc, “Promenade Nirvanesque,” made the flesh crawl with its bizarre mixture of New Age and Smooth Jazz hybrids with an anesthetized Indian feel. It wasn’t until about the sixth song, Northern Comfort’s “The Servant,” a deep, luscious mellow funk with French accordion and Indian vocals, that the disc gets better and one can truly chill. Karmix’s “Khalouni” is an intoxicating Afro-Indian hybrid with a percussive tension that refuses release. Acid Queen’s “Sema” is eerily pleasant, and Praful’s “Sonher” is also a gem.

The unfortunately titled second disc, “Ethnic Lounge,” starts with an impressive, soulful d&b cut, “We Enter,” by Alladin. Blue Planet’s “Latin Masala” is a catchy piece of work, and “Lost Frequencies” by Genetic Drugs and Jasmon’s a deliciously hot groove. Vision’s “Ponger Star” drives dub into highly percussive territory. A Guy Called Gerald contributes some erotic house with “Humanity,” and the compilation ends with Brazilian flair with Ensemble Ethnique’s “Batu” and Mo’ Horizons’ Gilberto take on “Hit the Road Jack.”

Claude Challe takes an interesting approach to chill-out: irritating you to no end and then finally releasing the tension with deep, international grooves that move. You will chill — but it’s a harrowing trial by fire to get there.

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