The best way to describe Naked Kaleidoscope is “nice”. It’s not the most enthralling and exciting release out there. It probably won’t make your list of Top Five CDs I’d Take With Me To A Deserted Island. But it is a pleasant, smooth mix of deep and funky house music. It speaks to the quality of the selections that the weakest part of Naked Kaleidoscope is not the songs themselves, but Lady D’s introduction on the CD jacket. Here we are informed in an irritatingly hippy-dippy-cosmic tone that Naked Kaleidoscope is “the tale of two people who at first contact feel a very strong connection ... they encounter questions about their imperfect (read: human) union ... What synergy exists in a chance meeting? Could there be hope for love? Questions which can only be answered if they pledge to share what lies within the eye of their ... naked kaleidoscope ... a conceptual journey basking in the necessity for statement.” Uh, so these are songs about love and relationships? Wow, heavy. While I cannot forgive the use of “synergy”, I’ll chalk the rest of this mumbo jumbo up to enthusiasm and D’s background as a music writer (we all know how they get carried away) and organizer in the Chicago house scene. And if you can get past those silly notes, this really is a spiffy little CD.
The mix kicks off with the silly but appropriate “Poem” (something about a bird of paradise delivering the golden egg of truth, or some such) from Malawi Rocks (featuring Simon), which flows nicely into Colette’s (another Chicago house DJ, and Lady D crony) disco house number, “Try Her For Love”. The next several tracks glide by in an ever so silky-smooth way, with Children of the Planet Earth’s “You Are the Future” and Lovetronic’s “You Are Love” being among the stronger selections. Kaleidoscope stumbles once it hits the overlong “Change” from Fluid X, and the thin vocals on Fantastic Plastic Machine’s “Bossa for Jackie” and A:xus’ “When I Fall” tend to distract. But D finds a nice groove again with The Lazy Boys’ “Your Love Is” and finishes strong with Lisa Shaw’s “Always”.
Overall, this is a solid compilation, except for the moments when D gives in a little to heavily to her cheesy cosmic-love tendencies. But then, goofy vocals are a rather common pitfall of the funky house genre. Outside of some strained lyrics, Kaleidoscope functions equally well as a dance or chill-out album, which is one of those nice little perks of mellow house. Fans of the Naked Music compilations will certainly find something to like here. Besides, you’ll be oozing good karma after picking up a CD from a woman who has poured her heart and soul into promoting the Chicago dance scene.
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