Previously, I’ve written features about both OM Records and chill-out music. In my feature on OM Records, looking at some of the label’s best releases. In that article, I mentioned how OM were famous for releasing chilled out, laid back and mellow music, with compilations like OM Lounge and Mushroom Jazz, which I’ve also written a feature on. Well, in 2006, OM released another compilation of mellow, laid-back grooves OM Chilled. Compiled and sequenced by Cool Rob G, OM Chilled is a quality compilation of chill out music, proving that there are still some labels that can release quality compilations of downtempo music. As I said in my feature on chill-out music, a few years ago, it seemed every label, including the majors, were releasing chill-out compilations. This lead to a drop in quality, with many compilations featuring music that never in your wildest dreams could it be described as either chill-out, downtempo or lounge music. Even certain previously long standing, quality compilations took their eye of the ball releasing inferior compilations. After that, the chill-out music seemed not so popular or fashionable. Many people moved on to other genres of music, disappointed that a musical genre that started of almost underground, had been destroyed. Although I still loved what I’d call “classic period chill-out,” there weren’t many new compilations being released. Six years ago, I remember receiving a pleasant surprise in 2006, when OM released OM Chilled. Having bought and loved the album, I wondered if this was the start of a new series from OM. Then when OM Chilled Volume 2 was released, featuring the same quality downtempo, laid back grooves, I though that this could turn into the next OM Lounge. That, however, wasn’t too be, with OM only releasing the two volumes of OM Chilled. Who knows though, maybe as I type this, over in OM headquarters in San Francisco, Volume 3 is underway. If not, there’s always the two volumes of OM Chilled to explore and cherish. However, what kind of music can be found on OM Chilled?
Fourteen laid -back tracks can be found on OM Chilled, with tracks from some familiar faces on OM compilations. This includes Samantha James, Jimpster, Michael Tello, Stolen Identity and Joey Youngman. All of these artists can be found on previous OM compilations. Among the other artists that feature on OM Chilled are Land Shark, Crystal Stafford, Gil Tamazyan and The Moves. So OM Lounge is a combination of artists that have previously featured on OM Records, and new artists. However, each of these artists provide some quality laid back, chilled out grooves. Of the fourteen tracks on OM Chilled, they’re all the high standard you’d expect from an OM Records compilation. So high is the standard of music on OM Chilled, that trying to choose a few of the highlights is difficult, but I’ve managed to do so, and here are my favorite tracks.
My first choice from OM Chilled, is a track from Samantha James, whose music can be found on compilations like OM Lounge Volume 10, OM Dubai and OM Dubai. Not only does Samantha’s music feature on OM compilations, but she’s also released two solo albums Rise in 2007 and 2010s Subconscious. Angel Love is the track that features here, and is a track with a lovely understated sound. With just crisp beats and flourishes of synths accompanying Samantha’s sweet, sensuous vocal. A touch of delay is used on her vocal, while a Rhodes piano and subtle, bursts of guitar augment the arrangement. This is gorgeous track, with a lush sound that just meanders along. It’s very typical of Samantha’s music, and I’m sure that once you’ve heard Angel Love you’ll be checking out both her previous solo albums.
Jimpster is the musical vehicle of Jamie Odell, founder of Freerange Records. Previously, his music has featured on compilations by Naked Music and OM Records, as well as his own Freerange label. He’s been releasing music since the mid-nineties, and previously, has released six albums. On OM Chilled is Left and Right, which features Capitol A’s vocal. This track is from his 2006 album Amour, released on the Village Again label. I’ve been a fan of Jimpster’s music for many years, and this track demonstrates Jamie’s talent as a producer. There’s a real hip hop influence to the track, with Capitol A rapping the vocal against a compelling backdrop of crunchy beats, percussion and stabs of squelchy synths. Add to this echoey keyboards that drift in and out of the track, while the beats are quick and crisp. Although the track has a hip influence thanks to the vocal, the arrangement has a dreamy, floaty sound. Even without the vocal, this track would work well, but with the vocal, it’s even better.
The only artist to have two tracks on the album is Headphonism. There first offering Stay Home and Chill, opens OM Chilled. Written and produced by Tim Bernhardt and Stephen Baldo, the track has a dreamy, floaty sound, with a vocal appearing swathed in echo. It Instructs you to: “stay home and chill,” before disappearing, only to reappear. This gives way to crunchy beats, percussion and stabs of synths and keyboards. Together they produce a totally chilled out backdrop that almost envelopes you. You find yourself drawn to track, succumbing to the instruction to: “stay home and chill.” Having done so, it almost induces a state of relaxation, that only a classy chill-out track can do. I for one will be exploring Headphonism’s music further.
Having loved Headphonism’s Stay Home and Chill, I had to mention their other track on OM Chilled , Guidance. It features a beautiful vocal from Anna Meta. It has a fragility, but also a sweet sound. Enveloped in echo, with crispy drumbeats, hi-hats, floaty synths accompanying the vocal, the track gets underway. The track has a dreamy sound, but when a flute enter, the track quickens. Keyboards and more drums join the mix, with the drums having a slight drum and bass influence, before Later, squelchy synths enter. However, what makes this track so special is the vocal, which transforms a good track to a great one.
Very different in sound from many of the tracks on OM Chilled is Crystal Stafford’s Breathe. It features the delicious, subtle vocal of Crystal Stafford, sung against a backdrop of acoustic guitar, bass and sharp beats. Again, there’s a fragility to her voice, with the song having almost a Nu-Folk sound, but sung against crispy beats. To me, this is a good example of how a variety of songs can be classed as chill-out or downtempo music. There’s no formula to what is, or isn’t chill-out. It can be anything from an old John Martyn album track, obscure jazz or dub reggae tracks to the latest in electronic music or Crystal Stafford’s beautiful music.
One track I just had to mention was Bassnectar’s So Butterfly, an instrumental track. Previously, Bassnectar has released eight albums, for labels that include Amorphous Music, Organic Music and OM. So Butterfly is taken from Bassnectar’s 2003 album Motions of Mutation, released on Amorphous Music. It’s a track with a “bigger” and more complex arrangement than many on OM Chilled. From a gentle start where keyboards open the track, crispy beats join the track. After that, the arrangement builds and builds. Eventually, the arrangement has unfolded, with the arrangement fuller and busier, a myriad of keyboards, synths and crunchy drumbeats. Having reached its peak, the arrangement almost pauses, before gathering momentum, until after seven glorious minutes this hypnotic and mesmerizing track finishes.
My final choice from OM Chilled is Jon Beltran’s It Was All Beautiful. John has previously featured on other compilations, including Highway and Landscape, which I reviewed in my feature on chill-out music. He’s released seven albums, including Human Engines in 2006, on Milan Records, which included It Was All Beautiful. Swathes of synths float out of your speakers when the track opens. The tempo is slower than many tracks on the compilation, at only 108 beats per minutes. A piano and chorus of subtle voices in the background are joined by punchy beats, as the track begins to reveal its subtleties and hidden charms. Of the fourteen tracks on OM Chilled, this is a gem of a track, well worth waiting until the final track for. The swathes of music build and build, their beauty washing over you, cleansing your soul, with their mass of synths, beats, piano and chorus of angelic vocals.
Although I’ve only mentioned half of the fourteen tracks on OM Chilled, I could just as easily have mentioned any of the other tracks. Such is the quality of music on the compilation. OM Chilled has the standard of music you’d expect from a compilation from OM Records. Like OM Lounge, Mushroom Jazz, Sounds of OM or House of OM, OM seek out the very best music around from around the world. This they’ve done so many times before, and I’m sure they’ll long continue to do so. It’s just a shame that OM didn’t decide to release more than two volumes of OM Chilled, because sadly, there’s a lack of quality chill-out compilations being released. Who know though, maybe Volume 3 of OM Chilled will be replaced this year. However, if it is, it has a lot to live up to, given the quality of music on OM Chilled. If like me you love chill-out and downtempo music, then OM Chilled is an album that features some gorgeous, laid-back, chilled out grooves, and is well worth adding to your music collection. Standout Tracks: Samantha James Angel Love, Headphonism Stay Home and Chill, Crystal Stafford Breathe and Jon Beltran It Was All Beautiful.