At the start of the century, for those of us old enough to have been around back then, when the Millennial Bug made us paranoid about technology, the British Isles was awash with a spate of almost identical ‘Chill out’ compilation albums and brands.
Tapping into some weird fascination with the infinitely more interesting, and technically competent, work from both the Trip Hop community and the Mo’Wax tribe, the ‘Chilled’ gang often seemed content to create music with the sole purpose of it being played in the background.
Whereas Trip Hop actually gave us a reason to indulge in our paranoia, Chilled Out provided very little; often ending up as the soundtrack to some god-awful cinema holding screen, or being used in commercials to make poor products appear ‘trendy’, the leading sounds of the Chiller’s contained little substance and very little style; they were ‘nothing’ music for ‘nothing’ products and ‘nothing’ paranoia states.
Occasionally, and only if you could stomach listening all the way through such compilations, you could find gold within the pile of rubbish; a track composed with interesting downtempo drum patterns, mumbled distressed lyrics, and distant/floating vocals. A track which demanded the foreground rather than the background.
Aligned closely with the very best of the turn of the century chill out sounds, what ‘Down and around’ does particularly well is to create it’s own unique soundscape; a place that set’s itself apart from the by-numbers, Café Del Mar wannabe, chilled out environments.
Drawing us into a universe that feels comfortable, safe, and inviting, ‘Down’ slows down pop’s typical beats-per-minute standard into a pace that slowly reminds us that, sometimes, we don’t always need to run at full speed.
Well produced and comprising of low in the mix rhymes, ‘Down’ uses interesting easter eggs (Japanese vocal samples, backwards scratching, textured synth loops) to keep the drum loop interesting and ever changing.
Sample heavy, dj friendly, and designed for the midnight hour, ‘Down’ represents some of the very best elements of trip hop culture and chilled out/ downtempo electronic music; it repeats the loops yet ensure that the loops never become repetitive. Or boring. Or background noises.
File this one away under interesting Trip Hop and keep it away from any Chill out compilations…