A new kind of chill

“Chill” has come a long way, mostly down. It is now possibly the most abused word in playlisting. Back in the days when Cafe Del Mar truly owned chill, it represented something. Something more than ‘relaxing’ music: elements of the Balearic, worry-free escapism, the evocation of transporting you somewhere else, where a sunset, beautiful people and a Negroni are most likely involved. The music was vaguely DJ oriented, downtempo beats that played very much in the background but added texture and ambience to surroundings. Out of this heady construct came endless variations of cool music, on CD compilations that sold by the container load.

That time has passed. Now every other playlist on streaming platforms has the word ‘chill’ in it just in case people type it into the search bar. And that’s just cynical. Don’t get me wrong, I think new music curators like Chillhop music and Chill Nation do a great job of presenting the genre in a very changed landscape (YouTube basically). But chill has lost its glamour and mystique somewhat. Chill has kind of been commodified.

I listen to music for every mood, including wanting very much to chill (pref with Negroni). However, I get quickly restless if the music gets ‘samey’. I like music that commands the attention, because to me that helps in the process of chilling. I also like to hear shifting-styles, so Peaceful Piano or Acoustic Beats or whatever, won’t do it for me. It’s musical wallpaper.

My solution to all this is A New Kind of Chill: eclectic, multi-style, vocal, instrumental, indie, neo-classical — everything rolled into one but very much still chill. The goal is that you can press play on this and sit and listen. Actually listen. You could talk, but why would you? You could read but don’t. You could sip Negroni but…okay do it.

You have fundamentally excellent tracks here from Ed Harcourt (no vocal, mmm that’s intriguing he has a great voice), Clogs (with Matt Berninger who is ever welcome on our playlists of any genre), The Hedge Schools, and Gaz Coombes too! I heard these from all kinds of sources: Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour (choice), Jamie Cullum’s Radio 2 jazz show, read about first etc. The track Arrival Of The Birds by Cinematic Orchestra was recommended by Rob Wood of Music Concierge (it is wonderful and Rob is an absolute master curator). Next is Phil France, The Swimmer (who was part of Cinematic Orchestra) and it is a favourite, from my swimming playlist (try turning it up loud). There are some choice collaborations like Jordan Rakei and Richard Spaven, Connan Mockasin and James Blake.

There are a few personal touches, like my friend Andrew James Johnson’s wonderfully atmospheric piano piece The Deceitful Waltz, and the Richard Spaven/Jordan Rakei track was sent direct from Eric Karsenty of Music Stories. Some cool covers too, Acetone (what slacker guitar work here) doing the Midnight Cowboy theme, And isn’t the Alt-J cover of Thin Lizzy’s Dancing In The Moonlight is just rather wonderful? As is the original. Now that reminds me I also have a ‘Chilled Lizzy’ playlist (honestly, I really do), because only true Lizzy fans appreciate just how chilled they could get.

Finally that Aphex Twin track Flim is there at the end, to bring you around. Now, has someone mixed me that Negroni yet, or do I have to do everything myself around here?…(chill).