Koop – Waltz for Koop
The early 2000s were a particularly fruitful time for the wonderful brand of downtempo, jazz-tinged ‘chill out’ that emerged from the ashes of the gritty trip-hop produced in the mid to late 1990s. Acts like DJ Shadow, Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky paved the way for things to slow down – slow right down – and to start incorporating a more bright and breezy lilt.
So July 2002 was the right time for the Swedish production duo that called themselves Koop to bring out their sophomore album, Waltz For Koop, which was an eclectic mix of bossa and jazz rhythms put together with modern electronic influences. The album embodied the very essence of cocktail parties at dusk, and featured guest artists Terry Callier, Cecilia Stalin, Earl Zinger, and Yukimi Nagano, who has recently popped up as the lead singer of Swedish electro-pop act, Little Dragon (so-called after Yukimi’s own nickname for her fiery temper).
A wonderful review by Matt Keller described the vocals on the album better than any other review at the time: “The voice of Yukimi Nagano suggests the exuberant insouciance of picnics, rides in convertibles on warm, full-moon nights, and an afternoon spent dancing barefoot with friends with a glass of sangria in your hand. Like Astrud Gilberto, the great talent of her voice is the emotion it evokes – it’s less about technical perfection and more about its acute ability to set a mood.”
Though the album features a number of gems, one of the very best is the title track ‘Waltz for Koop’, which is a shimmering, slow-paced jazz number featuring Cecilia Stalin on vocals, plus generous helpings of double bass, jazz flute and soaring strings – timeless and utterly divine.