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Chill out maestros prove they have some different tricks in their locker
Brian Casey, 14 Jul 2010
The career of chill out duo Zero 7 has been marked by a number of respectably charting albums, held back from reaching more dizzying heights only by the very laid back nature that makes them so enjoyable. Unlike releases from some of their more obviously successful chill out/trip hop contemporaries, Zero 7's albums aren't substandard offerings punctuated by hit singles; rather they are to be listened to in their entirety in a sitting or lying position, with the option of some mild intoxification of one kind or another for added effect.
Remarkably, for a compilation 'Record' achieves the feel of an original LP, incorporating some of the better known tracks as well as milestones in the band's development to great effect. The album has a pleasing overall analogue haze, and at times you might be forgiven for thinking you were listening something created in decade of Dark Side of the Moon rather than The Darkness!
It is by no means short of laid-back soundscapes coloured by synth envelopes, dreamy Rhodes textures and familiar chill-out basslines as on the second track 'I Have Seen'. However, the track list also features more upbeat moments which provide a point of crescendo – as in 'Everything Up' or 'Mr. McGee', the latter demonstrating what some of today's simplistic chart hits could be, with a more intelligent and organic approach. For another dimension entirely check out the airy string arrangements on 'End Theme'.
'Destiny' is a little too close to Air with its opening programmed drums and acoustic guitar, but the timely introduction of vocalist Sia Furler breathes a unique soulful feel into proceedings. Opening track 'Futures' similarly breaks the dreamy voice of Jose Gonzales free from the shackles of his usual earthly finger-picked guitar stylings, coaxing it skyward with galactic intent.
Throughout, Zero 7 retain the ability to exchange predictable trip hop chord changes for musical moves born of contemporary jazz, contemporary folk, modern pop and more. Ultimately, Record confirms that the duo have a lot more tricks up their sleeve than the laid-back chill out that pays for the bread on their table via placements on major TV soundtracks and home redecoration serials.