Various Artists

Café del Mar, Vol. 8

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In the 1990s, the Café del Mar compilations became a fashionable alternative to the more aggressive and forceful electronic sounds that people were dancing to at raves. If you were open to hearing electronic club music but didn't care for techno, trance, jungle/drum'n'bass, or acid house, the Café del Mar compilations could acquaint you with a whole other electronic world -- an ambient/trip-hop world with a laid-back, chill-out orientation. Café del Mar, Vol. 8, which MCA assembled in 2001, isn't a radical departure from its predecessors. An ambient/trip-hop approach to electronica still prevails, and MCA keeps things relaxed with sleek offerings like Mari Boine's "Gula Gula," Illumination's "Cookie Raver," and Digby Jones' "Pina Colada." The best-known artist on the CD is Dido, who fans of hardcore rap know from Eminem's "Stan" -- and who has an appealing example of British trip-hop in "Worthless." Some of the tunes contain vocals, while others are instrumental; either way, Café del Mar, Vol. 8 is about atmosphere and ambience -- an atmosphere of electronic lushness that is meant to keep the listener in chill-out mode from start to finish. Not everything on the CD is a masterpiece but, overall, the material is likable -- and even the unremarkable tracks are at least pleasant. Café del Mar, Vol. 8 may not convert those who aren't ambient/trip-hop fans already, but those who enjoyed any of the previous seven volumes are likely to appreciate this one as well.

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