“Chillout Music” or whatever they call the CD that you get with your 10th cup of coffee at Starbucks or your third shirt at Banana Republic, has quickly become the Muzak of the modern age. Most of it is harmless enough, or at least better than Kenny G, featuring bland beats that might fool the aging hipster into thinking that he is still on top of it. But shouldn’t one strive for at least a little more than “harmless” when it comes to music? I mean common, how hard is it to put a little effort into finding a handful of records that you genuinely like every year. I do sympathize, however, with those that find it nearly impossible to cut the clutter in the “downbeat” or “electronica” genre as it takes an almost full dedication to the genre to stay in the loop.
There are a few bands who have managed to both continue to make good old fashioned electronica for a mass audience (Air, Morcheeba – although less so recently, Chemical Brothers), but Zero 7’s second full length “When It Falls” is among the most surprisingly soulful and interesting in quite a while. The brainchild of two British recording engineers, Zero 7 manage to both create lush pastures of shimmering instrumentation while seeming increasingly deft at selecting vocalists to accompany the music. For the second time around the duo enlist Mozez, Sia Furler , and Sophie Barker to lay down the pitch perfect lyrics to the flutes, horns, guitar and beats that make up the sound.
Sure, some may think that this is a bit of a sell out with the band recording now on Elektra and even crafting some more commercial friendly melodies, but there is more than enough to respect and admire – I suggest you all dig in.