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Various Artists - Chillout 06: The Ultimate Chillout Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 February 2005

Various Artists

Chillout 06: The Ultimate Chillout
format: 16-Bit Stereo CD
label: Nettwerk America
release year: 2005
performance: 8
sound 8
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

Image After listening to a stylistic compilation, such as this one, a person would at least hope to have a better understanding of the genre represented when it’s all done. But since the tracks included on “Chillout 06” are seemingly all over the map, musically speaking, one may be no closer to having chillout down cold -- even after it’s finished playing.

One plus side of this disc can be gleaned even before the music starts to play. This is because the CD credits list numerous name artists, instead of a bunch of faceless dance mixers. These stars include Sarah McLachlan doing a previously unreleased remix of “World on Fire,” “Life's What You Make It” by the underrated Talk Talk and “Against All Odds” by the hip The Postal Service. By the way, if you assume this track is somehow (hopefully!) different from that dreadful Phil Collins soundtrack hit from a while back, you’re dead wrong. But in the hands of TPS, this ballad doesn’t really sound all that bad. Maybe it was the singer, not the song, that made it so distasteful in the first place.

Chillout music is “dance” music created for listening -- I think -- which doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. In other words, you’re supposed to chill out to it at a club, rather than get your groove on with it. But if I’m totally wrong here, and people are moved to get up and boogie to “Weekend” by The Perishers, they must be on some mighty fine drugs. That’s because if you listen closely to its lyrics, you learn that it’s a sad-sounding song about looking forward to the weekend. Go figure: it’s a stinkin’ sad song about the weekend??? How can a weekend ever be sad? It’s like that saying about how the worst day of fishing is better than the best day of work. Weekends cannot be dreaded, can they? Boys and girls, this track certainly ain’t no “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy, that’s for darn sure. Another oddball selection is called “Ugly and the Beautiful, ” which is performed here by The Real Tuesday Weld. It sports breathy vocals, which are distinctly Tom Waits-y. It also has a sort of saloon song feel to it, instead of any dance floor vibe.

There really are no instrument staples in chillout music. On Bent’s “Silent Life,” for instance, the track grooves to a hand-clappy rhythm. It begins with a synth melodic intro, before adding horns and pedal steel guitar – no kidding, it really has pedal steel guitar! Then it ends with a string quartet outro. And speaking of horns, there are also all kinds of brass on “Time Is My Everything” by former Stone Rose Ian Brown (anybody still remember The Stone Roses, by the way?). His contribution here sounds a little bit like the group Love, which is going way back to the ‘60s for a reference point.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on here. Perhaps a dance music expert can tell you how it all fits together and give you a definition that is better than mine. Instead of racking your brain over a definition, however, why don’t you just chill and enjoy it, instead? Just leave all that defining business to anal-retentive critics, who have two left feet and nothing better to do.

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