|Artist: Various Artists|
The term Chillout has to do with a state of being in both mind and body. It is a decompression from a previously active condition, often facilitated by relaxing and comforting music that has been crafted in a fashion that is both intellectually stimulating and distinct in its ability to quiet even the most overloaded, over-amped dancehall raver. Regrettably, much of the current crop of releases brandishing the "chillout" designation are frozen in style and expression - mere down-tempo renditions of what's happening in the "big" room out front - and fail to create a soothing, contemplative listening space. Fortunately, with the collection Flotation, the term Chillout is regaining some currency.
Flotation stays true to the philosophy of chill by presenting a variety of pleasant and unselfconscious tracks. Moreover, the disc exceeds its mission by commissioning music that incorporates intelligent influences from within as well as beyond techno culture. The collection assembles ten remarkable works by a diversity of genre artists in an order that calls into awareness the subtle relationships between each piece.
The pace of the disc is set by Neil Sparkes on the opening track. Along with a sense of exoticism, "Miramar" provides anticipation and even a bit of tension as morphing reed samples jam over eastern inspired percussion riffs. The track is a wonderful beginning to the album, building up, then handing off to Adham Shaikh. "Sabadhi" mounts layers of synth pads, sequencer patterns, soft drum loops and a melodious flute solo into a soft focus of pleasing musical activity. On "Sol", Ishq begins the descent inward by accurately capturing the drifting feel of an Out Of Body Experience. On "River Goddess", Mystical Sun follows a pitched down bass throb into an electronic jungle. Mere Mortals brightens the mood with "Lyricism of Symmetry", a piece ripe with flanged synth drones and chirping filter modulations. "This Life" by Steve Roach bends the arc of the album into a circle; the deliberate cycling of synth harmonies and accents regenerating deep into the soundworld. The steady ticking of "Clarity" by Makyo pulls us out of the depths and back into focus with an infectious bassline, reassuring vocal samples and a sparkling piano lead. The Spongle track, "Saudade II", is highlighted by a wonderful reverberant flute solo over electronic pads. Eat Static reveal their introspective, non-linear side on "Caveman", a piece that swirls its way through the sonic landscape. Flotation concludes with "Drifting" by Circular, a friendly and warm realization, suitable for a soft landing.
This absorbing mixture of music will certainly make your listening space more interesting. With its ample content for the mind and soothing pulsations for the body, Flotation will appeal to both the cerebral as well as the more pedestrian listener - possibly even bringing the two a bit closer together.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 16 March 2002
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