Various Artists

The Chillout Annual 2002

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Ministry of Sound capitalized on the ever growing chillout craze by presenting the 2002 Chillout Annual no less than a month after release date of its sister compilation, Chillout Sessions - Ibiza 2002. What separates the Annual session from its sister release is the sheer quality of the two-volume tome. It's far more eclectic than the Ibiza disc set, relying less on jazzy rhythms and hip-hop beats and favoring more of the most enduring and loved downtempo selections of the previous five years; presenting an accurate overview to the evolution of downtempo music and its mainstream popularity. Of course there are some faltering moments, but they are more than made up for with the inclusion of such anthems as Zero 7's "Give It Away," Massive Attack's near flawless "Protection," which features Everything but the Girl's Tracey Thorn on lead vocals (she also makes another guest appearance later on the compilation, doing vocal duties on the Deep Dish classic "The Future of the Future"), and Radiohead's haunting "No Surprises." And while there are a few moments that are definitely more upbeat in nature than expected from a chillout compilation (tech-house masters Deep Dish and Silicone Soul both make appearances here), they only serve to reinforce the sheer scope of what does/doesn't define this genre still in its infancy. Newcomers to the genre will find this an ideal starting point.

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