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Flora & Fauna
Codek Records

Codek records, formed in 1996 by DJ Sasha Crnobrnja and Alex Gloor in a New York flea market, is a label and artist collective that has been producing a number of exciting releases as well as the Organic Groove parties, store and graphic design outings. On his latest, Sasha teams up with Fa Ventilato as Flora and Fauna to create some cultivated down-tempo material that sounds fresh and lets your mind retreat into a more relaxed state.

Not as Dub-heavy as either volumes of the Organic Grooves albums, Schoehn stills has some Dub elements as well as Afro-beat rhythms, both old and modern synths, vocal samples, and yes, melodies created by someone just whistling them out. A lot of the percussion parts rely on intricate and funky snare rolls treated by more acoustic sounding kits. The bass on tracks like "Even Airflow" is immersed in lush reverbs and filters that lead their way into Japanese gongs and a rolling keyboard line that will make for a perfect Sunday morning selection. Similar to Thievery Corporationís Sounds of the Thievery Hi-Fi, Schoehn is a primarily instrumental album with some vocal samples and snippets that add nicely to the tracks. You can see why Sasha was selected to remix for a recent Tosca single. The Indian chants of "Beauty And Efficiency" push the track into a heavily ethereal esthetic already established by the beautiful classical piano part and reverberated percussion. The vocal sample on the opener "Sensual Discourse" sounds exactly like, erm, Louis Armstrong, and again gives the track that extra push to laid-back perfection.

Perhaps it is their Swiss/ European upbringing but Sasha and Ventilato have this kitschy, Julie Andrews, "Sound of Music" vibe buried just below the surface of some of their tracks. They seem to have an affection towards old, and sometimes silly, keyboard sounds that are by no means bad, but most definitely a creative alternative to the heavily used Hammond organ sounds on a lot of todayís trip-hop records. These older key sounds on tracks like the purposefully titled "Aggressively Modern" provide the back-up to the previous mentioned whistling that drops you right on top of the Swiss Alps for a late day picnic and flower collecting. "Summer in San Tropez" also has whistling but this time with a more spaghetti-western atmosphere and intertwines with the samples of kids playing in the pool and a basic synth-bass line.

This album has many different styles that come and go through out the album and does anything but stick to just one formula. As opposed to some of the more goofy synth songs, tunes like "Teak-Paneled Gangway" have fluid and modern keyboard sounds, drum breaks that are funkier than any track by The J.Bís, and yes, R2-D2 sounds. "Smooth Landing" is probably the roughest and moodiest tracks on the whole album with a desperately lonely harpsichord playing alongside of hard drums and expressive French horns. "Towards A New Architecture" might remind you of early Black Dog Productions material with its rhythmic pattern established by a looped international dial tone and ambient synch washes.

One of the most pleasant things I found about Schoehn is that Sasha and Ventilato have created a record that is easy going, soothing, dramatic, and highly produced with a variety of different styles that wonít demand all of your attention. It kind of sits as a soundtrack in your head and worked wonderfully on the subway when I wished to escape and pretend as if I was headed to San Tropez instead of work.

-Justin Hardison

Track Listing:

1. Sensual Discourse

2. Aggressively Modern

3. Even Airflow

4. Delirium and Excess

5. Beauty and Efficiency

6. Towards A New Architecture

7. Finnish Minimalism

8. Global Ambition

9. Summer In San Tropez

10. Teak-Paneled Gangway

11. Smooth Landing

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