During the nineties several small independent labels started to release lovingly curated compilations of downtempo or chill out music, which was popular in the Balearic Islands, and especially on the White Island, Ibiza. That was where many British and European DJs first saw chill out sets being played at places like Cafe Del Mar. These sets gave new meaning to the word eclectic,
The sets featured the unlikeliest of tracks which seamlessly became part of a musical tapestry that featured everything from ambient and electronica to folk, hip hop jazz and soul. They were joined by Balearic music, Eastern sounds and Middle Eastern beats that were part of a breathtaking and mind-blowing musical journey.This was enough to inspire the British DJs who watched on.
Soon, the British DJs were playing similar sets in chill out room as dancers came down and enjoyed the laid back mellow music. Before long, chill out music as many had started call the new music began to grow in popularity. Suddenly, the chill out room was the place to be as a musical revolution began.
At first it was smaller independent labels of released albums of chill out music, while similar compilations were billed as downtempo or Balearic music, These compilations started to grow in popularity, especially when new series like Cafe Del Mar were launched.
Before long the nascent chill out scene was a like a pan-European cottage industry as labels were formed and producers made new tracks with new compilations in mind. Some labels managed to licence tracks by folk and jazz artists that fitted the chill out bill. These compilations were proved popular and lucrative for the labels.
That was the case as chill out which was still in growing in popularity as the new millennia donned. By then, other labels raising there was money to made were ready to enter the market. Some were smaller independent labels who took a similar approach to the genre’s pioneers Other labels, including independents and majors saw pound signs and hastily compiled cash-ins were released. Soon, there was a deluge of chill out albums whose quality varied greatly and were best described as the good, the bad and the ugly.
Many record buyers who embraced the chill out scene in its early days started to turn their back on the music after the standard of music started to fall. Some record labels were churning out third-rate compilations with chill out in the title. Even sales of the blue chip chill out albums started to fall. Before long, sales of compilations of chill out downtempo and Balearic music were falling sharply, and the musical revolution was over.
It was far cry from when compilations of chill out downtempo and Balearic music were among the most popular in the overcrowded and competitive compilation market. Sadly, that was in the past. The times they were a changing.
Since them, sales of chill out downtempo and Balearic compilations have never reached the heady heghts of the noughties. That is despite many European labels releasing lovingly curated compilations of chill out, downtempo and Balearic music. This includes the Balearic label who have just Balearic 4 which features a dozen quality cuts.
Balearic 4 opens with Max Ease’s beautiful, dreamy and ruminative Gold Hush (Part Two), which gives to Emerson Kitamura’s lullaby styled cover of George McCrae’s soul classic Rock Your Baby. This is a remarkable and welcome transformation of a familiar song.
Simon Peter’s cinematic Ottimismo which paints pictures of a long hot summer in the Balearics. Fuga Ronto’s Rework of Kay Zee’s Barny has the potential to become a down modern day downtempo classic. It’s beautiful, joyous and sometimes dubby and the perfect accompaniment as the sets in the Balearics. So too is On-U Sound’s cosmic flamenco dub of Los Twangueros, which is the first of two exclusive tracks on Balearic 4.
Faze Action’s genre-melting remix of Private Agenda’s Dawn is another laid-back track that was part of the soundtrack to summer 2018 in the Balearics. So was Quinn Lamont Luke’s soulful, funky and jazz-tinged floor filler Different Aspirations. The quality continues on J-Walk’s carefully crafted hands in the air floor filler.
The tempo drops on Max Manetti’s Changuinola which hints that the Happy Mondays circa 1989 was an inspiration for the track. Breese’s remix of Robot 84’s San Vorera features Manuel Amoscotegui and finds Spanish guitars play a leading role in this joyous chill out track. Joe Morris’ Skies Reprise is best described as filmic chill out, while Fabrizio Mammarella Ambient Remix of Gallo’s Faron is a beautiful dreamy Balearic track and the perfect album closer.
Balearic 4, which was recently released by the Balearic label, is akin to musical treasure trove that features familiar tracks and hidden gems. The twelve tracks on Balearic 4 are reminder of another musical era which spanned early nineties and into the noughties. Back then, Balearic, chill out and downtempo music was hugely popular until bandwagon jumpers and hastily compiled cash-ins brought to an end what was the most laid-back and mellow musical revolution ever.
Just over a decade later, and Balearic, chill out and downtempo complains are still being released, although not in the same numbers. One of the best Balearic compilations of 2018 is Balearic 4 which is the perfect accompaniment to chasing rainbows, watching the sun set or making sleepy-eyed love as the dawn breaks.