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Prismatic
By Sante' (Stephanie Sante)
Label: Sante Music
Released 7/1/2010
Prismatic tracks
1. Morning Breeze
2. Chill Station
3. Pearl Boulevard
4. Rio Metro
5. Open Window
6. Carousel Dreaming
7. High Tide
8. Satin Sunset
9. This Diamond Light
Prismatic
Despite how good her last two releases (Coffee Culture and Shine) were, I still wondered if Stephanie Sante had made a good decision in switching genres from spacemusic/new age music (on CDs such as Inner Beauty and Into Light) to a Nujazz/chill-out fusion (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nujazz for a definition of the former term). Fans enjoyed her earlier albums and they garnered both praise and airplay. Of course, I myself waxed enthusiastically about both Coffee Culture and Shine, so I'm not suggesting she erred with the switch, but I just hoped her new direction would make more folks aware of this woman's special musical talents and gifts.

I no longer have any concerns. Prismatic reveals that not only was this the right direction in which Sante should take her music, (especially evidenced by the leaps forward in her musicianship, artistry and composing on this CD) but from an accessibility standpoint, if Prismatic doesn't place her squarely on the national radar in the Nujazz or chill-out realm, I don't know what will. Prismatic is easily the finest music she's released and it should land her a lot of new fans.

Prismatic compares quite favorably to Richard Bone's Coxa and Electropica, which (as frequent readers of my reviews over the years will attest to) is HIGH praise from me indeed. Sante injects her music with the same slinky jazz licks, bouncy rhythms, catchy refrains, and abundance of fun, as well as also incorporating samba/bossa nova influences and plentiful use of sampled vibes (vibraphone) and Fender Rhodes electric piano (both also present on Bone's albums). The main differences between Sante's and Bone's music is that Sante usually operates at a higher energy level (less "loungey" than Bone) and also brings in a few more contemporary wrinkles now and then. On the new album, she also features a smattering of environmental sounds, such as the sounds of mass (rail) transit and station announcements on Chill Station.

Per the liner notes, the music was inspired by Sante's travels to the Pacific Northwest (the CD's cover features some tasteful photos taken by the artist during her trips), but unlike the typical laid-back "nature-influenced" music one might expect from just such an influence, the songs are infused with a sense of energy and evoke an urban feeling (in the best possible manner). Every song features some kind of beat/rhythm accompaniment (as mentioned earlier, frequently with discernible bossa nova/samba roots) whether it's the thumping stand-up bass and trap-kit drums of the opening Morning Breeze, the percolating blend of drums with chilled beats on Pearl Boulevard, the sexy cymbals and wood blocks on Open Window or the slow tempo snares and high hat on the closing This Diamond Light.

On Prismatic, Sante is in full command when it comes to layering rhythms alongside her guitar and keyboards with skill and artistry. She plays the guitar in a variety of styles with talent and flair to spare and her drums and beats, in particular, have noticeably improved. Technically, the recording is as good as the music (the artist produced the CD and co-engineered it with her partner, Anne McGlochlin).

When you feel like you need a spark of energy, something to make you want to get up and get your groove on, or even if you just want some tasty (and tasteful) tuneage to brighten your day, grab Prismatic and fire it up. It'll surely help you get your mojo back on track.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 9/24/2010
 
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