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No Place to Chill

PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 7:18 pm
by howard male
Charlie wrote (in his review of 'Balkan Beats' just posted at the home page of this website'):

I don't know about you, but I thought the Big Chill was all about mellow grooves in the summer sun, and that's the kind of record I had in my box. But after two cool cuts I was faced by two young women, demanding that the music be more exciting, something to drive them wild. The rest of the set was a slightly panicky search for the few fast songs that I happened to have with me. This year, with this album in my hand, I'll be more than ready for those dancing dervishes if they come back for more.


Exactly the same thought past through my head when I was writing a review of Future World Funk's latest comp, a couple of weeks ago. I wrote:

I think I'm getting too old for this kind of thing. There I was, doing my embarrassing dad-dance around the room to the tracks on the 'chill-out' disc (or 'down' disc, as DJs Russ and Cliffy would have it) of this two CD compilation, when I realised, to my ears, this wasn't chill-out music at all. 'Rudie No!' By Two Culture Clash, and 'Allez Allez' by Eastenders, actually crack along at a fair old pace - if this is music to chill to, then what was the 'up' disc going to sound like? The answer, in the case of tracks like 'Dia Maro Dum'by Marky and Xrs, and 'Fulanito' by Merencumbiaca, is - cranked-up to an almost cartoon level of excitement.


So my question to you all is - when did chill-out music stop being music to chill-out to? What's going on here? Where in the club world can a middle aged man just go for a quite sit-down, a beer, and some ambient grooves? For surely 'ambient' was what chill-out started out as - a kind of commercial offshoot of Eno's 'Music for Airports' etc.

Anyway, there are at least a couple of DJ's (not including Charlie) who contribute to this forum, who may be able to explain this all to me. And a bunch of mere mortals who I'm sure will have a theory or two to impart as to why such a calm and laid-back beast has turned into just another (barely discernible from the rest) branch of ferocious strobe-driven, floor-stompin' dance music.

Although I've nearly always avoided CDs with the words 'Chill Out' on the cover I have somehow ended up with a couple of such CDs from about five years ago (they must have been Christmas presents!) And they are laid-back, semi-ethereal, only ever-so-slightly dancey things. So what's going on!?

chill-out music

PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 8:15 pm
by Phil Meadley
Well I did a series of compilations called Zen and the Art Of Chilling on Ark 21 a couple of years ago and a Songlines reviewer said it was only fit for hairdressing salons. You can't win. The title was tongue-in-cheek as were the liner notes but I'm still very proud of the mix. It is - as the title suggests - extremely chilled and world flavoured. I think if anything is called 'chill-out' (terrible title I know) then it has to do what it says on the tin. I can't stand going to clubs with chill-out areas and finding out that they are anything but. My idea of chill-out is ambient such as Eno, Pete Namlook, or Biosphere. Unfortunately the chill-out tag has given this type of music a bad press.

cheers

Phil (DJ etc etc etc)

PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 9:57 pm
by Jamie Renton
I never did much care for all that chill out stuff myself (although I did like Phil's Zen & the Art ... compilation & gave it a good review in fRoots at the time) & really rate the new FWF compilation (breakneck beats & all)

But I do recognise the need for making some room to relax, listen to some good global music & enjoy a drink. Early on in my Chilli Fried nights I aim for just this, although I'm more likely to play Kekele, Hasna El Bacharia or Abdullah Ibrahim than some elecronic ambient sounds. Then as the night progresses I'll gradually raise the tempo & volume.

I'm no expert in such matters Howard but, in answer to your question , I think that many contemporary forms of dance music (grime say or hard house) are so hardcore and bangin', that anything that doesn't bash your brains out is considered 'chilled' by comparison. So things no longer have to be too chilled to be considered chilled!

Jamie

Ambient schmambient

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 10:23 am
by Con Murphy
Well, I’ve dusted off the telescope and taken a rare view of popular culture, and from where I’m sitting I wonder if it’s down to the fact that “Chill (Out)â€

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 11:52 am
by howard male
Jamie wrote:

I think that many contemporary forms of dance music (grime say or hard house) are so hardcore and bangin', that anything that doesn't bash your brains out is considered 'chilled' by comparison. So things no longer have to be too chilled to be considered chilled!


This is what I suspected Jamie - it's all relative. I suppose one day Nine Inch Nails will be considered ambient, God help us.

And as usual Con, I both agree and disagree with you. The trouble with an all-encompassing definition of 'chill' as meaning - not shovelling coal or not sitting in an airless office staring at a computer screen - is that it becomes meaningless.

It would seem to me, on thinking about it further, that the current definition of 'chill out' is anything with slightly fewer beats-per-minute than a runaway train.

Going back to the Future World Funk double CD and seeing if I could discern any other differences between the 'down' CD and the 'up' CD, I realised the 'down' tracks tended to have more break-beats and more interesting rhythms generally, whilst the 'up' one went more for the hundred miles an hour, four to the floor, moron-stomp, many of us find so tedious .

So (quickly checks his thesaurus), this means that the contemporary definition of 'chill out' has to be: music for people with a more sophisticated appreciation of rhythms. And the rest of dance music is for the rhythmically-challenged, ecstasy-consuming hedonists.

I've got chills, they're multiplying

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:46 pm
by Con Murphy
howard male wrote:And as usual Con, I both agree and disagree with you. The trouble with an all-encompassing definition of 'chill' as meaning - not shovelling coal or not sitting in an airless office staring at a computer screen - is that it becomes meaningless.


Hey, don't blame me for what other people do to our language.

Actually, I'm quite encouraged by this idea that the definition might have changed a bit, certainly when it comes to CDs anyway. Previously, I've always given any CD with "Chill" in the title the, erm, cold shoulder because they always seem to me to be putting the cart before the horse in offering a prescriptive approach to relaxing through music.

It's different in a club situation, of course. That's where ambience comes into play, and you rely on the DJ to set the best overall mood.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 3:19 pm
by RobHall
While I share the collective disdain for anything with the word "chill" in the title, I would like to nominate an exeption to the rule. I think I've probably mentioned this compilation before, but it bears repetition: "African Chill" on Manteca continues to delight after regular plays over the past couple of years. Nothing earth shattering; just a very well-selected collection that can be picked up for the price of a paperback, and which serves as an excellent introduction to African music for the friend or acquaintance who expresses curiosity.

Is it "chilled"? Don't know, don't care; it is fairly laid back, but I wouldn't call it ambient.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 10:43 pm
by Martin_Edney
Jamie Renton wrote:I think that many contemporary forms of dance music (grime say or hard house) are so hardcore and bangin', that anything that doesn't bash your brains out is considered 'chilled' by comparison. So things no longer have to be too chilled to be considered chilled!


Certainly with happy hardcore coming in at a minimum of 150 beats per minute (grime tending to be rather more relaxed), then something ambling along at a mere 100 bpm (less than 2/3 of the speed of quite a lot of dance music these days) will sound comparatively slow and "chilled". I blame the move from cannabis to ecstasy and amphetamines as the drugs of choice of many (lifting my theory from Andy Kershaw's "What's happened to Jamaican music" theory).

PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 8:04 pm
by Jamie Renton
I've been invited by Attitude is Everything (an organisation which campaigns for better disabled access to music venues) to play a "chilled world set" at a night they're running at the Big Chill Bar next month. I'm not too sure what a "chilled world set" is, so I e-mailed back asking "how chilled is chilled?" & was told "It can be uptempo chilled but not bangin" No, me neither. I suppose I'll just have to go down there & test the limits.

Anyone know where I can get a Napalm Death album?

Jamie

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:41 pm
by Martin_Edney
You're welcome to borrow mine (although Napalm Death sound pretty mild in comparison to modern day hard-core punkists such as Cock and Ball Torture)

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:49 pm
by Jamie Renton
Martin_Edney wrote:You're welcome to borrow mine (although Napalm Death sound pretty mild in comparison to modern day hard-core punkists such as Cock and Ball Torture)


Mentioning Napalm Death was my subtle tribute to the late John Peel (their biggest fan as I recall). That's probably the only time that 'Napalm Death' & 'subtle' have been used in the same sentence.

Is there really a band called Cock and Ball Torture?

Jamie

PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 10:12 am
by howard male
Now I get it! 'Chill out' is 'Lounge' and 'Lounge' is 'Chill Out'!

Russ Jones' 'Beginners Guide to World Lounge' splits Lounge into 3 categories (across 3 CDs): Lounge Chill, Lounge Bar, and Lounge Club.

'Chill' lowers the BPM and puts a velvet glove over the four-to-the-floor kick-drum. 'Bar' is essentially the same as 'Chill', but it sounds slightly better after a couple of drinks. And 'Club' is only lounge by name, not by nature - the BPM has been so cranked up, that if you can lounge to this, then you could lounge in a trench at the Battle of the Somme.

So (and you all knew this already), lounge is just a marketing device which has lost all meaning (even if it had any in the first place) to shift whatever they want to shift. I imagine there's an album somewhere called 'The Gullible's Guide to Hardcore, Hardhouse, Heavy Metal, Grunge Lounge'

loungey smoungey

PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:44 pm
by phil meadley
Once cynical, market driven record labels got hold of the concept of chill-out there really was no hope. I remember back in the day that it was a groundbreaking concept with loads of fascinating music expanding the notion of electronic music 'for the head'. It was probably called ambient then, and Eno, The Orb, and Pete Namlook were Gods. Now it's become a joke and most magazines and music writers won't touch it with a barge-pole. Lounge takes the concept one step further down the dodgy marketing ladder. I blame the current saturation of global chill-out directly at the feet of the Buddha Bar. Labels are desparate to cash in on their success but haven't realised that once you think about jumping on a bandwagon it's normally too late. What people tend to forget is that the Buddha Bar was more about a certain opulant, semi-mystical lifestyle than the actual music. I'm not saying all the music was bad (far from it in some cases) but it was the whole expensive package that interested the punters. I really don't understand why labels still think this is a concept worth pursuing. I don't think the public is that gullible.