Chillosophy (series)

Chillout was a commercial fad for a time, but ambient has many lives and in the early 2000's the Chillosophy series showed a way forward at a time when major record labels were persisting with soulless recycling exercises like Sony Music's sterile Open Space franchise.

series:
Chillosophy

country of origin:
Sweden

style(s):
Lounge, ambient trance/techno/dub

decades active:
2000's

essential releases:

  • Chillosophy (2001, Digital Structures)
  • Chillosophy 2 (2002, Digital Structures)
  • Chillosophy 3 (2003, Digital Structures)

Reviewed by Mike G

Chillout compilations can be awfully cheap throw-togethers, sometimes good in spite of themselves but too often lacking surprise due to having been market-researched to within an inch of their life. The better ones flow seamlessly, showing that at least some thought has gone into their construction.

The very best, however, go beyond the simple ebb and flow of moods. They show a distinctive vision, resulting in a comp that could have come from no one else. Swedish artist Sebastian Mullaert (aka Son Kite, Ooze, DJ Seb) has such a vision. The outstanding Chillosophy series he compiled from 2001-2003 for indie label Digital Structures shows a compiler with an ear as sharp as anyone on the downtempo scene, past or present. They are fresh, stimulating journeys that traverse ambient atmospheres, trip hop and breakbeat grooves, psychedelic dub and sounds we don't even have words for yet.

What makes them different? Seb Mullaert's own music is a good indicator. His contribution - recording as as Ooze - to Chillosophy 3 (2003) called "Snowflower" is a sublime marriage of cold and bleepy machine sounds and crisp, dubby drum programming with warm organ chords and a wailing female vocal. Son Kite's "Million Wishes" - again composed by Mullaert and from the same album - plays on the same kind of tension. It starts with a slow, deep bassline and its pulse is a dirty vinyl crackle. Then, like an angel emerging from the darkness, sweet strings and a wordless female vocal slowly rise above the background noise. It's a stunning moment. Whether conscious or not, it's the fresh takes on the marriage of technology and humanity - of darkness and light - that informs much of the music across these three discs.

Chillout was a commecrial fad for a time, but ambient has many lives and in the early 2000's the Chillosophy series showed a way forward at a time when major record labels were persisting with soulless recycling exercises like Sony Music's sterile Open Space franchise. As did the pioneering Freezone and Cafe Del Mar series in the 1990's, these comps set a new standard for a new decade.

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