The Ambient/Chill Out sound
…is a laid back mix of downbeat electronic pop/jazz, sometimes with a touch of ethnic sound thrown in. Pipe and slippers lounge music if you like…


V/A: Buddha Bar I & II
Compiled by: Claude Challe
Label: Chall’O Music
Both of these compilations are double CD sets containing "Buddha’s Dinner" and "Buddha’s Party", and are Chill with an ethnic feel. Claude Challe gives you the perfect ambience from one of Paris’ coolest nightspots – the Buddha Bar. There is also a Buddha Bar III compiled by Ravin, – but it is even more ethnic than volume I and II. A bit too much if you ask me 🙂

V/A: Café del Mar vol. 1-7
Compiled by: Jose Padilla
Label: Various/Mercury
Probably the mother of all the Chill Out compilations. A sure sign of summer in Europe when Jose Padilla is shipping yet another volume in this excellent series. "Volumen Seis" [6] is a personal favorite, but you can always rely on Mr. Padilla doing a great job putting the tracks together and creating the perfect relaxing Chill Out mood.

V/A: Chill Out Café vol. 1-5
Compiled by: ?
Label: Irma Records
The fifth chapter in Irma Records "Chill Out Café" series, specializing in an assortment of some of the finest Chill Out around. Check for more info.

V/A: Living Some Dreams vol. 1-4
Compiled by: ?
Label: Mole
The German Mole Label has several Ambient/Chill releases in their catalogue. Check for more info.

V/A: Lounge Deluxe vol. 1 & 2
Compiled by: Monte La Rue
Label: ID&T Music
Both vol. 1 and 2 are very good compilations containing tracks by Nightmares on Wax, Sven Van Hees, Afterlife, Thievery Corp., and Monte La Rue himself.

V/A: Nirvana Lounge
Compiled by: Claude Challe
Label: Chall’O Music
This double package is a bit more ethnic, but nevertheless a great chill compilation again by Claude Challe of the Buddha Bar.

V/A: Serve Chilled vol. 1-3
Compiled by: Mark Doyle
Label: Hed Kandi
The Hed Kandi Label has several Chill Out compilations and the "Serve Chilled" and "Winter Chill" [below] series are all excellent double CD sets.

V/A: Science Fiction Jazz vol. 1-5
Compiled by: DJ Minus 8
Label: Mole
Volume 5 in the Science Fiction Jazz series is very good Ambient/Chill compilation with a touch of jazz. Lounge-jazz if you will…

V/A: Undiscovered Ibiza vol. 1 & 2
Compiled by: DJ Pippi
Label: Undiscovered Recordings
Two excellent one CD packages of relaxing Chill Out music, Compiled by ibiza’s "Pacha Club" resident DJ Pippi.

V/A: Winter Chilled vol. 1 & 2
Compiled by: Mark Doyle
Label: Hed Kandi
Also from the Hed Kandi label. Two double Chill Out CD’s with a more winter feeling. 

V/A: Xpansions – Lounge Factor No. 1
Compiled by: Xavier Perec
Label: Swirl Records
Excellent compilation by Amsterdam-based DJ Xavier Perec. 12 tracks and 72 minutes creating the perfect Chill Out mood. Check for more info and sound samples.

Afterlife: Simplicity – 1999
Produced by: ?
Label: Hed Kandi
It’s a good chance you’ll find a track by Afterlife on most of the Chill Out compliations. "Simplicity" contains 12 great Balaeric Chill Out tracks. Check for more info.

De-Phazz: Godsdog – 2000
Produced by: 
Label: Mole
Excellent laidback ambient CD with the right chill feeling. Check out other releases on

Sven van Hees: Gemini – 1999
Produced by: Sven Van Hees aka Ramon Serrano
Label: Life Enhancing Audio
Belgian producer & DJ Ramon Serrano has created the sound of passion in the coolest way possible. Complete with seagulls and ocean sounds in the background. 

Plastyc Buddha: Throwing Stones in Placid Pools – 2001
Produced by: Stephan Parmentier & Pieter Verschueren
Label: Life Enhancing Audio
Like the Van Hees album, this is also from Belgian LEA Records. Stephan & Pieter are both in-demand session musicians in Antwerp, and their project Plastic Buddha is based around the gently chords from the Fender Rhodes electric piano with some Latin beats thrown in. Great Chill Out! 

Kruder & Dorfmeister: The K&D Sessions – 1998
Produced by: Kruder & Dorfmeister
Label: G-Stone Recordings
A double-CD of remixes and dub from the laid-back Viennese duo. A fusion of 70’s vibrations and 90’s cool, this is the ultimate pipe-and-slippers soundtrack. Check for more info.

Tosca: Suzuki – 2000
Produced by: Rupert Huber & Richard Dorfmeister
Label: G-Stone Recordings
Very good laid back Ambient/Chill CD from these two Swiss pioneers of the Ambient sound. Check for more info.

Shazz: Shazz – 1998
Produced by: Shazz
Label: Sony
Excellent debut album from one of France’s most respected and renowned house producers. The album is a smooth fusion of soul, R&B, house and jazz, with a perfect balance of vocals and instrumentals creating the perfect home listening soundtrack. Again, – pipe & slippers lounge jazz.

St. Germain: Boulevard – 1996 & Tourist – 2000
Produced by: St. Germain
Label: Blue Note
both of these are maybe a little on the uptempo side to create a relaxing Chill Out mood, but nevertheless two very good downtempo jazz house albums from Frenchman Ludovic Navarre aka St. Germain.

Vangelis: Oceanic – 1996
Label: WEA
Produced by: Vangelis
One of many albums from this very talented Greek. Maybe not real Chill, but it has the relaxing ocean sound and it works for me. 

About Ambient…
The concept of ambient goes way back, but the term was first used by Brian Eno to describe the music that he made on a series of recordings that included "Music for Airports" and "Music for Films". The notion was that ambient music was able to sustain repeated and intensive listening, or could be completely ignored, like some kind of cosmic muzak. In short, it was to be an unobtrusive part of one’s environment while at the same time being interesting if one should choose to focus in on it.

He, along with various other musicians, experimented with this concept for several years. By the early 80’s, he brought the sample to the fore with "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts", a collaboration with Talking Heads’ David Byrne. The sample is really the purest type of ambient sound.

By the end of the decade, Alex Paterson was experimenting with the mixing techniques utilized by house and dub, but applying it to the music with which he was surrounded in his job at EG records, which included Brian Eno and his brother Roger, Harold Budd, Robert Fripp, and Jon Hassell. The Chill-Out sound was born. According to Gerard Talbot in his liner notes to the Virgin Records compilation "A Brief History of Ambient, Vol. 1", the chill-out room was "a physical–and very possibly eternal–Sunday morning for the E generation."

The 90’s witnessed an explosion in electronic music, and ambient has seen its share of adherents and innovators. The Orb brought things to another level and openly acknowledged the influence of long-forgotten "art rockers" and "avant-garde experimentalists" such as Steve Hillage, Tangerine Dream, Gong, and Can.

and Chill Out…
Chill Out actually started in England (London and Birmingham), when the rave culture started in 1988-89. DJ’s started to play "everything with a sea sound in it" in bars and techno-house party backlounges.

Ambient music is vacuumed for unnecessary sound, but DJ’s often used more as many as 5-6 sound sources, it became more a collage of music that required a new name. It usually was played in so called Chill Out lounges it made sense to borrow the name. Chill-out quickly became a popular genre in the early 90’s and several good electronic albums was released, side by side with more quickly and badly put together compilations titled "Chill Out Or Die" and "Chill Out In Heaven".

The Chill Out genre quickly got stars like KLF and The Orb, bands that used to do progressive rock, and therefore found it naturally to make long and extensive concept albums. [KLF: "Space" -a journey through outer space]

Check out The Downbeat for more on the Ambient/Chill Out sound…

Gunnar Homdrum, Oslo, Norway – © 1995-2001