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Zuco 103

Like their two previous Six Degrees releases, Zuco 103's Whaa! is a perfect summer record. Full of light, airy beats, slinky grooves, sultry vocals and considerable good cheer, it's both poolside- and dance-floor-friendly.

A truly transnational group, Zuco 103 is fronted by the Brazilian vocalist Lilian Vieira and filled out by German keyboardist/programmer Stefan Schmid and Dutch drummer/programmer Stefan Kruger. The resulting melange of international music mixes up bossa nova, samba and other South American dance music with jazzy funk, cocktail-lounge drum and bass, electro pop and 21st century reggae. Vieira's vocals (sung in her native Portuguese) are so buoyant and graceful that they seem to have wings--her voice truly soars.

It's hard to imagine more uplifting and joyful music than "Na Mangueira," "Nhá" or "Mayfly." Dani Macaco from the Spanish worldbeat combo Macaco drops some fresh vocals on "Duele Le Le." Adding a touch of the truly eccentric, grizzled dub pioneer Lee "Scratch" Perry pops in for a couple of vocal cameos. His contributions are hardly necessary, but they blend surprisingly well.

Zuco 103 does seem to have picked up some gravitas along the way, at least musically. There's a harder, more muscular edge to a few tracks here than on other Zuco 103 releases, especially on the title track, "Garganteiro" and the rock guitar flourishes on "Vou Levar." But basically Zuco 103 makes feel-good music that one can actually feel good about feeling good about. Bring on the daiquiris.

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