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Sit back and relax as these sounds take you away

Coming Home II
various artists
Stereo Deluxe Records

Waltz For Koop
Jazzanova/Compost Records

Bright summer days make me want to roll around in the grass and dream of blue skies, secret loves and carnival lights at night. In this blessed weather I need to be in tune with the sounds of only two discs – the compilation Coming Home II and Koop’s Waltz For Koop. These discs could be in eternal rotation in my stereo (or at least until the end of the season). But with the bliss on these records, it feels as if summer could go on forever.

Coming Home II from Nurnberg, Germany’s Stereo Deluxe label, is a compilation of sweet down home nu-jazz selections gently tinged with a distinct Latin flavor, whether it be the taste of tropicando of “Kalas” from Butti 49, the crooning shuffle of Bobby Hughes Combination’s “Kerma Elastica,” or the bossa nova fusion of Bossa Nostra’s “Chico Desperado (Atjazz Mix).”

In recent years there has been a marked return to actual songs, and singing, in the dance/electronic/whatever is not mainstream scene, and the tracks on Coming Home II make you want to dance and sing. Soulful vocals tell of lost love, sorrow and experiences of living with the soft caress of Hefner’s “Level Green (Blue States Mix)” or the smoky sexiness of S-Tone Inc.’s “Rendez-vous A Minuit” or the inherent danger of “Lo Sono Il Vento (remix)” by Coctail Lido. Multiboy does an update of Glen Campbell’s old sing-along “Gentle On My Mind,” while James Hardaway’s “Going Home” feels like it should be in Almodovar’s next film, as our heroine wanders through dusty streets, searching.

Stereo Deluxe will be hard pressed to top this compilation, which is superior even to the first Coming Home, and perhaps one of their best releases thus far. Things even get a bit funky with Noiseshaper’s Bobby Womack-meets-Gil Scott-Heron-cloned vocals singing about “Moving Together,” as Mekhanist makes you want to “Whistle While Work,” imagining what would happen if Esquivel got into breakbeats. One only wishes that “Life In Rain” is really as mysterious and captivating as Quantic makes it out to be, and Fingathing’s “You Fly Me” will leave you soaring with its heavy bass and melodramatic strings. Things get even jazzier with the Dee Felice Trio’s “Nightingale,” and a song from Koop, “Summer Sun,” which is also featured on Waltz For Koop.

This album from the Swedish duo of Oscar Simonsson and Magnus Zingmark has been out for a few months now, with high accolades and charting from luminaries such as Gilles Peterson, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Nuspirit Helsinki and many others. The hype is definitely appropriate for this majestic and stirring album, which refuses to lose its touch even after repeated cycles in the player. This record makes you fall in love with it so much, in fact, that a friend of this reviewer has conspired to reappropriate it for her own purposes, saying that “she can’t find it.” As madly in love as you may be with Waltz For Koop, it’s recommended that get your own copy, as I am now feeling the effects of withdrawal as I would from a dear loved one.

Waltz For Koop is a rather short album by today’s standards, but it feels like a life’s journey, as through its nine tracks you will be taken through the pathways of your heart, dressed in the sleekest suit that fits, drink in hand and smoking with sunglasses on. The title track opens up this exploration with the Cecilia Stalin’s touching vocals and sweeping arrangements. Things pick up a bit with the bebop-style rhythms of “Tonight,” featuring Mikael Sundin giving some Chet Baker energy. Stalin then tells us to “dream of love and then multiply,” and we will believe that “love will not compromise” on “Baby,” as Yukimi Nagano sings about her own personal affair with the sun’s truthful light on “Summer Sun.”

“Soul For Sahib” is the type of cool ’60s groove Martin Denny would come up if he were still making music today, while Earl Zinger delves us deeper in the downtown lounge mood with the twilight “Modal Mile.” Legend Terry Callier has a drink with us while hanging out with some alleycats on “In A Heartbeat,” before we go for some swingin’ and “Relaxin’ At Club F****n,” as Yukimi Nagano takes home elegantly with “Brights Nights,” offering us a nightcap to an exquisite rendez-vous, and yearning for another.