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THE CLASSIC CHILLOUT ALBUM
(EPIC)

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Chillout, the latest dance microgenre storming the British charts, is said to provide a more pop-friendly alternative to ambient, thanks to its reliance on familiar song forms built atop stable rhythmic foundations. But as with ambient (and trip-hop and down-tempo and whatever), it leaks both Prozac-laced lushness and urbane dread, a uniquely fin-de-siècle blend that unifies this flagship collection.

The two-disc British version, which reached #1 on the charts there, disappeared into the dining-room atmosphere by spreading the mixture too thin. Winnowed down to one disc for US consumption, the Epic release finds its schlocky cuts in closer proximity to its itchier ones. So itís not so improbable that talk-show chanteuse Charlotte Churchís Ford-motor anthem "Just Wave Hello" should radiate the same ineffable mood as the dried-tears clarity of Massive Attackís "Teardrop." In fact, it seems the organizing principle behind The Classic Chillout Album is to search for this mood in a disparate array of genres and contexts, from the opener, Mobyís heavy-hearted "Porcelain," to the two pieces of sugar-and-poison R&B from Jill Scott and Maxwell that bring the disc to a close. And itís largely in this audacious spirit that the compilation succeeds ó the Volkswagen commercial theme, the bit from Titanic, and the folkie Sting cover end up complementing one another in chilled-out bliss.

BY KEVIN JOHN

Issue Date: April 11 - 18, 2002
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