Downtempo, Chillout and Lounge News and Reviews

Thursday, December 08, 2005

November 2005 Downtempo Releases

New downtempo releases to chill to (rated out of ***** 5 stars)

Rhian Sheehan
Tiny Blue Biosphere ****

Warm without being sappy, this difficult to define release from New Zealander Rhian Sheehan traverses a varied landscape of other-worldly ambient strings and chorales, acoustic folk and steady breakbeats. There's some inspired sampling too - the lazy electro of "Phobos" ends with a sombre church choir hovering in the ether beneath a sample of the famous anti-war speech from the end of The Day The Earth Stood Still. With one-third lyrical and two-thirds instrumental the balance is great, so that the soulful vocals of guests like Jess Chambers don't sound like a chill producer hedging bets for a mainstream that can't stomach instrumentals. Tiny Blue Biosphere may sound unremarkable at first, but a few more listens reveals some wonderful, mysterious, sensuous music.

Various Artists
Cafe Del Mar Volume 12 * 1/2

How the mighty have fallen! Last year's Cafe Del Mar Volume 11 was a solid return to form for this iconic series, an album worthy of the cafe's status as a pioneer of Balearic chillout music, a venue that "was born to put music to the sunset". But with Volume 12 we get an excess of syrupy easy-listening pop songs and kitsch Euro soundtracks all dressed in pretty floaty nothingness. And way too much saxophone of the Kenny G variety. A couple of bossanova songs like "Le Vent M'a Dit" by Mic Max have a sweet, charming simplicity and would have sat nicely among the eclecticism of earlier albums but here only highlight the total absence of quality tunes surrounding them. Perhaps tellingly, compiler and resident DJ Bruno seems to be out of the picture and this year released his own far superior solo album Puzzle.

Various Artists
Cafe Mambo Ibiza 2005 **** 1/2

One of Cafe Del Mar's near neighbors on Ibiza's sunset strip is Cafe Mambo, though any notion that Mambo lingers in the shadow of its more famous competitor should be put to rest after hearing this outstanding album. Longtime resident DJ Pete Gooding's exceptional taste and unerring ear for quality downtempo tunes ensures that his compilations set a standard rather than jump on any bandwagon. Mambo's new 2-CD release Cafe Mambo Ibiza 2005 is of a similar standard and style, although more consistently downtempo across both discs and with a bit more of a nu jazz and soul flavour. Moby also shows he can still do engaging ambient techno with "Swear", while Sebastian Tellier pulls off a stunner with the slow-building symphonic breakbeat of "La Ritournelle", a track so profoundly euphoric its overwhelming. Once again Gooding's instinct for compiling soulful songs and intelligent instrumentals is very, very impressive. Also check out Cafe Mambo's 2004 10th Anniversary release.

* Blatantly ripped off from

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