Essential albums: Chilled Euphoria (series)

More than any other chill compilations that appeared around the turn of the third millennium - and there were millions of them - these ones define the ecstasy-fuelled bliss of post-clubbing chillout to perfection.

Chilled Euphoria

country of origin:

Ambient trance/house/pop/breaks/techno

decades active:

essential releases:

  • Chilled Euphoria mixed by Red Jerry (BMG/Telstar, 2000)
  • Deep & Chilled Euphoria mixed by Red Jerry (BMG/Telstar, 2001)
  • Chilled Out Euphoria mixed by Solar Stone (BMG/Telstar, 2001)

Reviewed by Mike G

These three stellar entries in the popular Euphoria series of what were otherwise club music compilations prove that credibility and mainstream appeal sometimes do magically co-exist.

More than any other chill compilations that appeared around the turn of the third millennium - and there were millions of them - these ones define the ecstasy-fuelled bliss of post-clubbing chillout to perfection. Although quite varied in style and possessing a significant pop appeal, there is a defining sound across these double CDs: downtempo remixes and interpretations of the more cosmic strains of 90's progressive trance and house. The Euphoria chill albums manage to capture this sound at its zeitgeist, just before progressive dance sounds went back undergound and were eclipsed by the overblown Dutch-style of Eurotrance that dominated dancefloors in the 2000's.

The quality control here is outstanding and one only need look at the compilers to see why. Red Jerry was head of the now defunct Hooj Choons/Lost Language, a UK label which released some of the most memorable trance and progressive house singles and mix albums of the 90's. Solar Stone was one of Hooj Choons main acts, a dance music production duo with a finely tuned ear for intelligent melodies and soaring, euphoric sounds.

The first two releases Chilled Euphoria (2000) and Deep & Chilled Euphoria (2001) are helmed by Red Jerry. He mixes a smattering of commercial fare like Dido and Moby with a large helping of euphoric instrumentals remixed from popular club tunes sourced mainly from European and UK artists. Sure, the deeply gorgeous ambient remixes of anthems like Energy 52's "Cafe Del Mar" and The Thillseeker's "Synaesthesia" and can be found on dozens of other comps. But at least here we get them all in one place, sitting alongside many lesser known gems that compilers of standard commercial fare just wouldn't bother searching out. The tentative piano chords of Breeder's remixed "Twilo Thunder" and the cosmic sighs of Odessi's "Moments Of Ambience" are two compelling examples. Jerry even mixes in a long excerpt from the Brian Eno opus Music For Airports (1978) to great effect, the kind of old-school beatless ambient that's virtually unheard of in this context.

Like Red Jerry, UK trance duo Solar Stone went the extra yard in compiling their entry in the series Chilled Out Euphoria (2001) and it's full of revelations. It preserves the dreamy and accessible vibe of the previous two volumes, while being stylistically broader and having a slightly larger quota of obscure and underground tunes. On the commercial tip, the remix of "Milk" by American rockers Garbage is amazing: a dark, hypnotic trip-hop shuffle that's brilliantly beatmixed with a similarly themed instrumental from German act Beanfield. Chillout staples by Delerium ("Silence") and The Future Sound Of London ("Papua New Guinea") both appear in fresh, rarely heard remixes. At the lesser-known end of the spectrum is some truly inspired choices: a gorgeous piece of vintage Berlin-school ambient trance from Tangerine Dream, pretty electropop from the Art Of Noise, and a rare appearance on a comp by new-school underground ambient guru Pete Namlook.

These three albums remain definitive in the world of commercially-orientated chill comps. Unlike many other series where the devotion to chilled house and trendy bar grooves borders on slavish (Ministry Of Sound anyone?) this is not music as fashion. Though cleverly marketed, the Euphoria mixes are - to coin a slightly cringeworthy phrase - more about the music. Ambient music. They are not guilty of genre snobbery: inclusion of tracks by Groove Armada (lounge) and Kruder & Dorfmeister (dub) and Autechre (pure techno) is adequate proof of that. But these albums do suggest a recognition that, in the club music of the 90's and beyond, old-school ambient music's legacy has emerged most potently in the subtle, lush, psychedelic qualities of progressive trance and house.

Put one of these on, turn up the volume and dive in - floating near the dance music mainstream around the year 2000 doesn't get any better than this.

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