Ananda Project: Night Blossom
Nite Grooves / King Street Sounds

Night Blossom teems with rich and expansive arrangements by Ananda Project founder Chris Brann that integrate deep house, jazz, funk, and Latin into seamless, kinetic wholes. The double-disc set features a sparkling collection of remixes (released and unreleased) of material from the group's fourth album, Fire Flower, while disc two is a mix set created by Brann that draws from the band's recorded oeuvre. The material is maximal in the best sense of the word: lush grooves sweetened with horns, percussion, keyboards, and synths, and augmented by a small coterie of soulful vocalists. Remixers like King Britt, Joe Claussell, Jay-J, Pasta Boys, Frankie Feliciano, and others leave their fingerprints on warm and soulful originals such as “Let Love Fly,” “Fireworks,” and “Free Me” which Brann bolsters with Latin (percussion, bass) and jazz (elegant piano, electric piano, soprano and tenor sax) elements and soaring vocals by the likes of Heather Johnson, Kai Martin, Avery Sunshine, Terrance Downs, and Heidi Vogel. DJ Kawasaki's swinging “Stalk You” remix stokes a steaming, synth-laden groove with Sunshine's vocals leading the charge, Downs ' seductive delivery complements the smooth Latin-house vibe of “Into the Sunrise,” and Martin's silky voice nicely offsets the stomping house pulse of “Stay As You Are.” Disc one memorably closes with the epic melancholy of “Moment Before Dreaming.”

Brann starts the equally appealing mix set with a lovely reprise of “Into the Sunrise” before moving on to King Britt's funky “Secrets” mix, Rurals' soulful “Stay As You Are” treatment, and Aquanote's jazzy “Justice, Mercy” overhaul. “Let Love Fly” loses none of its aerodynamic power in the Early Winter mix—if anything, it's more epic and ecstatic, even—while Kyoto Jazz Massive pushes its swinging “Bahia” remix into a Rhodes-heavy jazz zone and “Cascades of Colour” rides the release home in grand style. Like others of its kind, Night Blossom is overlong—the two discs weigh in at more than 150 minutes—and many tracks go on for one or two minutes longer than necessary. The only dud, relatively speaking, is Idjut Boys' overhaul of “Moments Before Dreaming” which amounts to ten minutes of atmospheric, dub-inflected noodling on the first disc (the tune impresses more when heard in a more palatable five-minute form on disc two). Such reservations notwithstanding, the material holds up as a consistently strong and expansive deep house collection.

April 2008