Various – Downbeat Liquid Vol 1 (Chillcode)

Posted in Reviews 2006 by - September 27, 2006

You can’t help but notice the apparent drying-up of chill releases this year. Recent years have seen a weighty crop, but in 2006 you have to dig a bit deeper which, as luck would have it, is exactly what Chillcode have done with this gem. Staying away from the thrust of the label’s previous spotlight artist Entheogenic, this is more about a variety of approaches to downtempo music, covering a lot of hammock-centric bases.

Hi Fi Companions’ Spaceships opens the album in a smooth, dreamy style before Enterprise get things properly started with Two Cups Of Coffee: a track that has it all. Ticklish, escalating melodies hover over an unfurling, mellow breakbeat. E.Jong’s Hymn To Kali has a playful, up-for-it reggae feel that makes it one of those tracks you can choose to dance to, or to sit there in your hammock and nod to. (This is chillout, remember, so both are valid.) It breaks down beautifully into this sparse, wide-open smacky chill (believe me, it’s deep), before gradually resuscitating its dubbiness. Enterprise return with Patchhead, a slower and more introspective track with some incredibly well-produced sounds that swirl organically around your room.

Sundial take things a fathom or two deeper with Sacred Plants, a track that’s as meditative as its name suggests, likewise Schatsi’s ethereal Clouds Over Stalden. Jaia’s December has a three-minute opening sees orchestral pads escalating and warming, before beats come in for a borderline kaleidoscopic spin, then fade away: absorbing stuff. Magnetrixx makes an unexpected contribution with Tiefsee, with some nice movement and decent sounds, but falling short of the rest of the talent here.

Thankfully, Vibrasphere confirm themselves as a seriously dependable act with Forest Fuel. It’s every bit as individual and gorgeous as their finest chillout work, sounding so heavily slow that it’s hardly there save for the deliciously pungent aroma of incense and hashish that it leaves hanging in the air. With U-Recken’s surprisingly warm, shimmering Aquatic Serenade closing the album, it’s all a very fine package at the end of the day.

It’s a solid, lovable album that would stand firm even in a more release-saturated climate than the one we currently find ourselves in. Good work all round.




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