Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Lemongrassmusic is a German-based independent electronic/lounge music label which, according to its website, "produces high-class genre-bending music releases, widening the scope of the Lounge genre by exploring Chillout, Ambient, NuJazz, TripHop, Electronic World Music, Deep House, Soul and more." Over the past few years, Lemongrassmusic has become - like Om Records, ESL, and Six Degrees - a label I regularly check out for new music.

I don't even remember how I first heard of them. I think I must have stumbled on a label artist while listening to an Internet music feed or while bopping around on iTunes. However it happened, I ended up buying a couple of compilations (Lounge du Soleil 9 and 11, and Deep House Dreams 4), and then went on to buy albums by specific artists. The first artist album I purchased was the deeply chilled Pour L'amour by Lemongrass.  While the label's artists are firmly within the lounge, chill, and/or ambient continuum, most of them bring something unique to their sonic palette that distinguishes them from the run-of-the-mill martini/lounge, chill-out, downtempo output. The artists are from all over the world, bringing a variety of musical sensibilities to the table.

Here are some examples of the fantastic music available from this label:

Slow World (Germany): Label co-owner Daniel Voss is behind this latest project. The 2014 album, Spheres, is extremely ambient in an almost new age kind of way. However, the electronic sensibilities ensure this isn't just hippie spliff music. Extremely relaxing and, at 6 tracks totaling 39 minutes (for $4), is low risk exploration. Great for a late night drive, meditating, or just daydreaming to.

Mirage of Deep (Spain) - I've purchase two albums by this band. 2010's Talking to Stars and 2011's The Garden of Gaia. The former is very ambient and has the feel of a soundtrack to an atmospheric sci-fi movie, while the latter makes use of sounds from nature to evoke an outdoor environment. The Garden of Gaia is a little less ambient, as it makes greater use of beats. However, the beats are mostly gentle in tempo and have the feel of acoustic percussion. As with the Slow World release, these albums are about quality and coherence, not massive length. Each is about 25-30 minutes and cost under five dollars. This easily digestible length encourages repeat listening and becoming familiar with all the tracks.

MoShang (South Africa/Taiwan) - I love MoShang's 2010 album Further East. The sound is very unique, mixing a chill approach to downtempo beats with traditional Asian instrumentation. To add another layer of individuality, several of the tracks incorporate lyrics sung in native languages. The lyrics, however, are actually Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD)! This album is obviously a labor of love, and is a fascinating mix of contemporary production and traditional sounds. Always takes me someplace exotic in my imagination.

Michiko (UK) - A super chilled version of deep house, Michiko's 2005 album Daydreamer goes down as smooth as Sade but has beats and grooves under Michiko's vocals that keep the music at a steady simmer.  She's had two more CDs come out since, but this one still satisfies my downtempo pop addiction.

Lemongrass (Germany) - This project of label co-owner Roland Voss has been around since 1996, and Voss continues to release albums under the moniker on an almost annual basis. Not only is Voss prolific, but there is quite a variety of sounds across these albums.  The albums vary from instrumental to atmospheric mood pieces to the sleek, sophisticated NuJazz of the absolutely stunning 2008 release Pour L'amour, which remains my absolute favorite downtempo album.  Just an amazing listening experience which at once relaxes you but also demands that you pay attention to the musicianship behind the aural candy. Kind of sorry that Voss didn't make another release directly in this vein, but then I'm glad that her didn't, as well. Love that these musicians just do what they do and that they are relatively free of the constraints that plague the creativity of major label artists.

Aside from the full-length releases, there are some great specific tracks to pay attention to:

  • Glam Sam and His Combo (Sweden) - "The Last Days of Disco"
  • Kondencuotas Pienas (Lithuania) - "So Pure" (Lemongrass Remix)
  • Tafubar (Italy) - "Rondo Romano" (Redlounge Orchestra Epic Mix)
  • Alexandra Hampton (USA) - "90 West"
  • SW (Netherlands) - "Golden in the Gaze of the Sun"

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