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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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The Lost Art Of The Idle Moment CD Cover
Image © Fuel 2000 2005

this album contains tracks sung by:
Esthero, Jem, Kate Havnevik, Inga Liljestom, Ladybug Mecca and
Diedre Dubois.

(23 October 2005) Carmen Rizzo is an LA-based, two-time Grammy nominated producer, remixer, musician and programmer who has has worked with a veritable "who's-who" in the music industry including Alanis Morissette, Coldplay, Seal, BT, Delerium, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Cirque du Soleil, Marius de Vries, Trevor Horn, David Foster and Don Was. With such an estimable resume, it only seemed natural that Rizzo would eventually look to releasing his own material. In 2000, Rizzo helped form "Povi," a chillout act that drew influences from trip-hopsters Portishead and Massive Attack. More recently, Rizzo joined forces with "Vas" vocalist Azam Ali and "Axiom of Choice's" multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torki to form the highly acclaimed world-beat/electronic group "Niyaz."

According to his biography, Rizzo grew up in northern California moving to Los Angeles at 19 with $1,000 and the phone number of a friend of a friend of a friend in the music business. He got a job at Westlake Studios as a janitor in the morning, a runner during the day. At night, he hung out with producers and musicians, discovering that he wanted to be involved in making records behind the scenes. His first break came producing Kristin Vigard in 1990 for Private Music/ BMG, which helped him break into a Los Angeles music scene that included up-and-coming bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, N'dea Davenport of The Brand New Heavies and Amp Fiddler. Since then, he has been in high demand as a producer, mixer and remixer.

Apparently Rizzo's endless well of creativity is nowhere near empty. The Lost Art of the Idle Moment is a sumptuous and atmospheric collection of electronic gems featuring guest vocalists Esthero, Jem, Kate Havnevik, Inga Liljestom, Grant Lee Phillips and the Digable Planets' Ladybug Mecca, Diedre Dubois (of Ekova) and Thomas Hanreich. Other musicians include long-time friend and co-writer Jamie Muhoberac and Andy Jenkins and Corin Dingley of retro-chillout band Alpha.

With its eclectic and hip roster of collaborators onboard, The Lost Art of the Idle Moment proves to be an exceptional listening experience chock-full of aural beauty and bliss. Canadian downtempo diva Esthero provides vocals for the sensual and languid "Too Rude." Fans of Alpha's music will definitely hear the creamy 70's Burt Bacharach influence as Esthero croons over jazzy breaks and orbiting synth swells. The whispery sweet voice of Kate Havnevik graces the retro-fabulous "Travel in Time," a Bond-esque, filmic piece of work and the more dense and aqueous "Bring it Back to Me." Kate Havnevik is currently enjoying considerable notice for her work with Rizzo, Royksopp and Guy Sigsworth (Frou Frou). It is easy to see why such well-known producers are intrigued by Kate's voice--a subtle blend of Bjork's exotic iciness, Anneli Drecker's clarity, and Goldfrapp's quirkiness. Welsh popstress Jem is featured vocalist on the self-introspective "Easy Way Out." With Dido-esq! ue calmness, Jem's pleasing voice situates itself perfectly in Carmen's meshwork of synth waves and casual beats.

"I'll Carry You" is another strange and lovely piece with Inga Liljestrom's strongly-accented and rich voice rolling over a dramatic soundtrack backdrop. This track particularly recalls Mono's "Formica Blues" album with spacey grooves and arresting orchestration. Rizzo also finds space for two male-vocal fronted tracks: "As the Day Breaks" with former Grant Lee Buffalo frontman, Grant Lee Phillips and "Next Life" featuring Thomas Hanreich. Surprisingly, both tracks are quite strong, proving that the world of ethereal electronica can work just as well with male lead singers.

Diedre Dubois takes the helm on "Farther," the only truly "trance" inspired track on the album. With her near-operatic vocalizations over swirling industrial synths and grinding beat, Diedre shows herself to be an incredibly gifted singer. Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets lays down a tight and smooth rap on the funky "Indigo." The instrumental tracks "Overlooked Happiness" and "Amborella" are both fine ambient numbers that compare favorably to the best Delerium instrumental numbers.

What makes "The Lost Art of the Idle Moment" such an exceptional album is Rizzo's willingness to step outside the bounds of the ordinary--to take familiar elements of electronica and arrange them in a wonderful new light. While many remain content to adhere to long-established trends in the genre, Rizzo is comfortable enough with his abilities to explore elements of rap, jazz, and rock. The fusion of these elements is what makes The Lost Art of the Idle Moment a supremely pleasurable listening experience.--Justin Elswick in Provo, Utah

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