PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 12:00am

De Phazz

Daily Lama


Heidelberg's enigmatic electronic collective have been tinkering with variations on the lounge formula with varying degrees of success since the summer of 1997.

This fourth studio outing reprises the tasteful blend of jazz-flavoured trip-hop, reggae and latin soul that went down so well on 2001's Death By Chocolate and adds Zulu grooves and other so-called World beats to the mix.

The first half of the disc is a laid-back ride thanks to the silky production of founder Pit Baumgartner. He draws some stylish moves from vocalists Karl Frierson, Pat Appleton, the gospel-trained Charity Sanders and his open ensemble, which is said to operate just as effectively in the flesh as it does on record.

Among the finer moments are the dub/reggae experiments that have a hypnotic, almost ethereal quality. They draw you in deeper with each listen and the shrewd addition of ambient drum'n'bass loops add to their charm.

But as you get further into the disc, cracks appear and by the time the pop-soul (Style) and disco numbers roll around, you've had enough.

One track in German (Dummes Spiel [Stupid Game]) and another in French (Desert D'Amour) bring little to the table and throughout the lyrics are just embarrassing, whatever language you speak.

They might be the toast of European dance floors, but British counterparts Zero 7 and the wistful French duo Air are much more convincing. It seems, for the time being at least, De Phazz will remain a continental phenomenon.