Ultra Chilled, Vol. 2

Various Artists

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Ultra Chilled, Vol. 2 Review

by John Bush

Fans eager for a successor to the solid first edition in Ultra's downbeat series -- which rose above the heap of substandard, commercialized chill-out compilations -- will likely be disappointed by Ultra Chilled, Vol. 2. The blueprint is the same, with compilers balancing a few downtempo tracks by a varying cast of vocal artists (Coldplay, the Specials, Black Box Recorder, Nelly Furtado, Bebel Gilberto, Radiohead) with electronica specialists (here, usual suspects like Boards of Canada, Groove Armada, Thievery Corporation, Tosca, Fila Brazillia, and Röyksopp). Still, where the first volume sounded calm, pastoral, and charmed, Ultra Chilled, Vol. 2 sounds limp-wristed and wimpy, slipping from an inviting chill-out mix into bland coffee-table fare. Richie Havens' guest vocal on Groove Armada's "Little by Little" is substandard elevator music, and even a great track like Goldfrapp's "Lovely Head" sounds contrived when it's ripped from the context of the LP. Virtually without exception, the tracks aren't up to the high level of Ultra Chilled, Vol. 1, while the mix and transitions sound forced. Ironically, this compilation falls right into the trap that has caught most chill-out compilations: All the hallmarks of a great mix -- a diverse cast of artists, well-chosen songs, suitable transitions -- become so diluted that the results rival the edginess of waiting-room music.

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