Various Artists

Perfecto Chills, Vol. 3

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As many second-rate electronica labels have demonstrated in the recent past, if you're not careful a chillout compilation can be seen as an invitation to lazy programming. Pad a mediocre downtempo dance track with two minutes of ambient noodling on each end and call it a "remix," then string ten of those suckers together and whammo! You've got yourself a chillout compilation. But one thing you can count on is that the folks at Perfecto aren't going to take that low-resistance path; these guys have been putting out top-notch dance music since 1989, and seem determined to maintain a high standard. Hence the consistently high quality of this, the third installment in the Perfecto Chills series, which offers 22 tracks that never dip below good and generally rise easily to the level of excellence. On the good end of the spectrum fall such pleasant but not really groundbreaking material as Goldfrapp's pretty but ultimately insubstantial "All Night Operator" and a Genuine Childs/DJ RU collaboration titled "Deeper Shades of RU," which features some fine funky moments but ends up sounding like less than the sum of its parts. The album's most bizarre entry is Nouvelle Vague's laconic samba treatment of Joy Division's proto-goth classic "Love Will Tear Us Apart"; it's a fun idea, but doesn't really work. Representing the much more densely populated "excellent" end of the spectrum are the silly but gorgeous "Pushy" by the perennially brilliant Lemon Jelly, Paul Van Dyk's trip-hoppy gem "Nothing But You [Tomekk Mix]," and, best of all, a spectacularly beautiful contribution from Imogen Heap titled "Just for Now." Overall, this album is a must-have for those in need of good music for the chillout room.

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