Nicolas Matar & Willie Graff: Cielo-Cinco
Tommy Boy

If Cielo-Cinco's soothing mix of jazz, dub, techno, and deep house is designed to lure one to NYC's celebrated nightclub Cielo, then on that count it surely succeeds. This elegant, five-year anniversary collection mixed by Nicolas Matar (Cielo founder and owner) and Willie Graff, deftly translates the Cielo club experience—which purposefully eschews deafening sound levels and sensory overload for a classier and cozier club atmosphere—into aural form on two discs split into “Now” and “Then” halves.

After the seductive pull of the slinky piano-driven opener, a Carl Craig remix of Francesco Tristano's “The Melody,” and Nomumbah's sensual dub workout “Like A Rainbow,” Matar and Graff cultivate a slow build via Kenny Bobien's soul-funk treatment of “Set Them Free” (a step up on Sting's well-known rendering) and the lush deep house splendour of Rucyl's “Love In War (Pete Gust KID remix).” Rucyl's cut in particular impresses as a near-perfect exemplar of the form but singling it out risks suggesting others are of lesser quality. Other disc one highlights include the beautiful dub-inflected house swing of Halo & Kemal's “Lift Me Up” and the soulful vocal turns of Abigail Bailey and Terra Deva on Soul Central's “Time After Time” and Furry Phreaks' “Soothe” respectively. The good times keep coming on disc two, with deep dub-house jams by Herb LF (“City Rush”) and Demetucci (“Deep Inside”), clubby tracks by Buzzin' Fly's Justin Martin (“Nightowl” in a Manoo & Francois A remix) and Swayzak (“Caught in This Affair”), and changing funk-house cuts by Joi Cardwell & Steal Vybe (“Wanderlust”) and Phonique (“Work It Out”). Anni Elif's sultry vocal also memorably boosts Charles Webster's mix of “All of Me” by Swell Session vs. Mark de Clive-Lowe. Anyone looking for radical, genre-defying innovation won't find it on Cielo-Cinco; what one will find, however, is a rich collection of elegant house music that goes down very easily indeed.

July 2008