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Continuing to alternate between his various different guises, Hardcastle 6 is the third album in as many years from jazz-funk pioneer Paul Hardcastle, following 2009's regular solo effort, Zero One, and 2010's sixth installment of the Jazzmasters series. Like the latter, these 13 tracks focus on a low-key urban jazz-pop sound equally suited to the chillout lounges of Ibiza and the sophisticated cocktail bars of London and New York. "Neon Adventure" blends Way Out West-esque electronica with soothing pan pipes, warm lush synths, and night-air sound effects, "Let This Love Begin" is a seductive slice of chilled-out quiet storm reminiscent of Sade's sophisticated '80s output, and "Into the Blue" is a Incognito-esque quasi-jazz number packed with lolloping glockenspiels and skittering Balearic beats, all of which are underpinned by numerous saxophone solos from Rock Hendricks. While these solos undoubtedly lend a dreamy air to the likes of the squelchy "Superstition"-inspired funk of "Night Time Hustle" and the new age-tinged "Blew My Mind Ibiza Mix" (an instrumental of the track that previously appeared on 2008's Hardcastle 5), they also occasionally become a little overbearing, as on the meandering Kenny G-esque "Lost for Words," the Kool & the Gang-sampling "DC Boogie," which sounds like Hardcastle just pressed the demo button on his miniature keyboard, and the schmaltzy "Easy Come Easy Go," which could have been the theme tune to a cheesy early-'90s family sitcom. The album is much stronger when it allows other instruments to come to the forefront, such as the fluttering flutes, twinkling xylophones, and old-skool hip-hop beats on an inspired mash-up of his 1984 single "Rainforest" and Marvin Gaye's soul classic "What's Going On" (also featured here in a Chill Mix) and the lush, warm synths of the "O Euchari"-sampling dream pop of "1000 Miles from Nowhere." Hardcastle 6 may drift into improvised self-indulgence at times, but like his other forays into smooth jazz, it's an accomplished easy listening mood piece that cleverly manages to straddle the line between Balearic chillout and dinner party background music.
|Label:||Trippin & Rhythm|
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