The melodic and atmospheric roots of club trance and progressive house lie in the layered sounds of early psychedelic ambient ala Tangerine Dream. So it's only fitting that iconic UK dance music label Platipus Records launched the first volume of this downtempo series by focusing on ambient material and remixes from its own artists.
The Art Of Chill
country of origin:
Ambient trance & techno, chillout, psyambient, lounge, slowbeats, dub, art rock, electronica
- The Art Of Chill (2003, Platipus Records)
- The Art Of Chill 3 (2006, Platipus Records)
- The Art Of Chill 4 (2007, Platipus Records)
Reviewed by Mike G
The melodic and atmospheric roots of club trance and progressive house lie in the layered sounds of 70's and early-80's psychedelic ambient ala Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. So it's only fitting that iconic UK dance music label Platipus Records launched the first volume of its Art Of Chill downtempo series by focusing on ambient material and remixes from its own artists.
For those who care for electronic music history, Art Of Chill (2003) is the sound of trance leaving the beats of clubland behind and returning to the source. For anyone else it's simply a terrific after-party or late night swim in a deep, multicoloured ocean of sound. Its studded with downtempo gems that dip into the Platipus catalogue as far back as eight years. Melodic, ethereal tracks like Union Jack's "Water Drums" and Kansai's ambient mix of "Rococco" are both stunning in their own gentle way. The better known Sinead O'Conner and Binary Finary both shine via previously unheard remixes of their respective tunes "Troy" and the Binary Finary trance anthem "1998", the latter re-imagined in cold deep space by Neo & Farina. Although a handful of the tracks here have appeared on many other chillout comps, the quality of the Platipus content puts this album up there with the best ambient trance collections around.
The pleasant but non-essential Art Of Chill 2 (2005) is far more generic, throwing in just about every strain of downtempo across another two disc set. Thanks to screamingly obvious inclusions like FC Kahuna's "Hayling" and Bent's "Swollen" it simply doesn't distinguish itself enough from many other comps on the market.
Fortunately the series gets well and truly back on track with Art Of Chill 3 (2006), a rich, mind-altering mix complied by old hippie techno-ambient rockers System 7 aka Miquette Giraudy and Steve Hillage. It's a colourful, harmonious and at times surreal blend of warm dubby lounge, Hillage's own electronica, current psy-chill tracks from names like Shulman and Blutech, and folksy detours through India and the Far East. An undoubted highlight is Hillage's own "Kupuri", a slow-building shamanic groove of rare hypnotic power with Hillage's famous gliss guitar soaring sweetly overhead.
Art Of Chill 4 (2007) is complied by Alex Paterson of ambient dance pioneers The Orb and is hands-down the best thing he's put his name to since The Orb's glory days of the early 90's. Given his love of sampling and encyclopedic knowledge of all things ambient he proves the perfect choice to create a highly distinctive mix. It's nothing less than a two hour trip through Paterson's extraordinary personal music collection from the 70's onwards with an emphasis on atmospheric ambience, soundtracks, pretty landscapes and stoned, quirky downbeats. Several new Orb tracks are also effective. Given the chance to run amok with his record collection, Paterson shows a surprising lack of self-indulgence. The album gels beautifully and it's the most ambitious entry in the series.
After two more installments (released 2008 and 2009, both of interest but non-essential) the Art Of Chill series came to an end.