Cielo: Volare

Volare, Cielo's fourth compilation, largely cultivates a breezy seaside vibe that's hard to resist, despite its ‘smooth' character. Mixed and compiled by DJs Nicolas Matar and Willie Graff and split into Departure and Arrival halves, the two-disc set's grooving material feels more like Brazil than New York, even though the popular Cielo club itself is located in Manhattan. Similarly, jazzy dance cuts like Kiko Navarro's remix of Chieko Kinbara's “Heart of Fire” have more in common with the Pat Metheny Group (in Brazil mode) than Frankie Knuckles. In twenty-two pieces, softly chanting voices, slinky house grooves, warm Rhodes and synth flourishes, congas and timbales, and jazzy bass lines are the ingredients, and Latin, funk, house, and soul-jazz the stylistic seasoning for this richly orchestrated collection.

Though an occasional track grates (over-the-top vocalizing in Whiteside's “Feel the Hope” and Fauna Flash's remix of Stereotyp's “Keepin Me,” for example), there's no denying the loveliness of the violin that sweetly sails through “Heart of Fire” or the lush horn writing that accompanies Ursula Rucker's silken voice during Raw Artistic Soul's superb “The Light.” The Beanfield mix of Koop's “I See a Different You” is sweet too, and certainly no one's going to argue when Matar and Graff end the release with Larry Heard's “The Sun Can't Compare,” whose ubiquity hasn't negated its appeal. Other disc two highlights include Fish Go Deep's “Esl,” which strips house to its soulful core, Julien Jabre's vibrant “The Stook,” and Rocco Tro Deep's remix of Cloudkickers' Police cover “Bring on the Night,” which doesn't start terribly promisingly but kicks into gear when the chorus hits. On the second disc in particular, Matar and Graff (wisely) broaden Volare's sound beyond the potentially one-dimensional ‘summer' vibe with darker techno and house moments by contributors like Pier Bucci and the aforementioned Heard.

November 2007