Various Artists

I’ll try to delve a little further than early 90s dance music compilations at some point but it is the various artists groove I am currently in for this series. Cafe del Mar, a series of albums named after the famous bar in San Antonio, Ibiza, gave birth to that most derided of genres, chill out. The compilation album series runs all the way up to Volume Twenty (released in 2014) but chill had eaten itself long before then.

The first album is a genuinely great compilation, on double vinyl, a round up of songs to listen to as the sun sinks into the Med and as the drugs begin to kick in, compiled by the legendary Jose Padilla himself. The tracklist for Volumen Uno has several tunes I’d take anywhere, among them Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Music For A Found Harmonium, William Orbit’s The Story Of Light, Underworld’s long builder Second Hand, A Man Called Adam’s wonderfully up Estelle and the skyscraping Beatless Mix of Smokebelch II by Sabres Of Paradise. Plus these two, first up a dubby version of Song Of Life…

Fanfare Of Life

And this one, the closer by Tabula Rasa. Not so much a song, more a feeling.

Sunset At The Cafe Del Mar

I have never watched the sunset at the Cafe del Mar. One day it’ll happen…


Second Hand

I’ve been listening to the first volume of the Cafe Del Mar series recently, the compilations that dubiously invented ‘chill’. I don’t like the concept or genre of ‘chill’. And it became an adman’s wet dream. But Cafe Del Mar Volume 1 is really good, with Sabres of Paradise, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, A Man Called Adam, Leftfield, Underworld and others. The only other Cafe Del Mar comp I got was volume 2, then I abandoned the series in a fit of anti-chill, anti-populist pique. My loss probably. Tucked away on the third side of vinyl (or track 8 on the cd) is Second Hand by Underworld. Second Hand is a re-working of a track from Dark And Long. It is still long (9 minutes plus), pretty dark, but subtle and very hypnotic, head music and dance music, all minimal squiggles and ticks and swooshes. Then the drums come in at around the half way point and we’re off…