I don't even remember how I firstly connected with the guys from Chillhop Records. I know I've been speaking with Bas for a good few years now and it has always been nice to bounce ideas and discuss industry-related topics. Him and the team are probably the most forward and experimental crew right now. If not in the music industry, then definitely in the beat/instrumental scene.
I've "lived" through a lot of Essential compilations and we're always honoured to host a premiere of a track, but I realized I never sat down and wrote anything that resembles a review or description of a whole compilation. Since I'm stuck at home with a broken foot and good music is the only remedy, a took an afternoon, chilled like there's no tomorrow and played the full Essentials Summer from the first to the last track while writing those lines.
I guess it's important to note - the guys are steering away from sample-based beats when it comes to official label releases. A decision they recently announced and I personally respect.
Now, time to dive heads first into Chillhop's Essentials Summer 2018. The team couldn't have selected better kick-off track than Pandrezz's "Takin' You For a Ride". The track is fresh, breezy and yes - the perfect soundtrack to a summer road trip with someone you're in love with.
In general, the release features 23 producers, most of which I feel somehow connected to as I've written dozen of features on and had the pleasure of interview most of them as well. However, despite the constant keeping an eye on the scene, with each release I discover someone new. After C Y G N's bassy "Love Is Weakness" and Misha out-of-the-box "Bae", Remulak & Liphe's joint "Wonder" and Matt Quentin "Sky Blue" were definitely new additions on my radar. While I think the tracks are on the rather opposite sides of chillhop music, both offer their unique step in the summer sound journey.
I think the next batch of people needs no introduction - plusma, Biro, Sofasound (who we premiered 2 days ago), B-side and Sixcube are familiar and friendly names. After Quentin's "Sky Blue" which is super jazzy, things "escalate" (if I can use such intense word when it comes to chillhop) with plusma's "albatros". Mostly, because of the synth-heavy foundation of the beat. Those wave sounds in the background definitely fit the title! In general, I find it easy to associate a summer memory with each of the 23 tracks. Then it's time to groove of course. Birocratic's sound has been evolving ever since I found his music and those bass-heavy smooth grooves of "Shakedown" can't leave anyone disappointed! I won't even comment on "Love Like a River". This is THE track to fall in love with. It's the music that echoes from your stomach when them butterflies start to fly around.
You know, coming from post-rock music, I see a lot of similarities between the genres. The one thing that makes me happy is seeing producers constantly evolving and changing their sound. While the genre really picked up in recent years, it's still somehow niche, so I think there's a lot ahead and depends on everyone in the scene to not only keep that flare, but explore new horizons. What I do like about the next track - B-Side x Sixcube's "Don't Cry" is the downtempo-like vocals and feel to the whole thing. I guess it kind of breaks the whole release or at least points your ears into slightly different direction for a few minutes. As I am writing this without edits, I'm gonna say - I did not plan to write about every single track on Chillhop's Essentials Summer. But then, this whole thing makes me so happy, I feel every person who has put effort needs to be mentioned. I think there's this saying - a "thing" is as strong as it's weakest link. Well, there aren't weak links here mates.
Floridomi is also another new name in my book. "Lakeside" carries that instrumental hip hop beat pattern, but everything else is rather on the chillout / ambient spectrum. That delay effect is seriously spot-on. I guess the track is a good prelude to Aso's "Sundays", but while the Cali producer is keeping things chilled and somehow romantic, we're definitely back into those vast, jazzy sound fields. Listening to this tracks makes me want to play some Kiefer after this whole write-up. By the time I've reached j'san. x Cloudchord's "First Wonder" I already feel like drinking on the South coasts of Portugal or Spain. After sharing my feature the other day, Cloud was nice enough to satisfy my curiosity and in case you wonder...
J’san was Intro and the beat, I was all the melodies/ solo
*10 minutes and a banana smoothie later*
As I pick up my Philips headphones and hit that play button again, I find myself in the world of Swiss producer Unda de Sango. I don't know why I thought the dude is Brazilian or at least from somewhere far away. Maybe because I associate "Sango" with those baile funk beats. Things are somehow different. "The Lime Vibe", besides its cool name, is this awesome somewhat groovy jam, so the whole experience (my pause and all that) feels like a new start of the compilation.
Next is what I would name "the feel lighter than air" sonic pill. France & Morocco deliver. L'indécis and Saib are nothing but absolutely solid beat-makers and their track "By The Seaside" is the embodiment of pleasantness. Also, since saib's in the equation, I was eagerly expecting to hear his guitar skills.
I have to say - I've featured both falcxne and Loupo, but seeing their names here was a bit of a surprise. I guess I just never really associated them with chillhop that much. Maybe I was wrong, or maybe the guys are currently venturing into that sound - feel free to educate me on that matter. What's important is that the percussion sound of "Prayer" is so damn good. Somehow reminds me of Dilla. The hi-hat is so powerful! Stan Forebe's "Possums & Popcorn" must be the most random track name on this Essentials edition. Also, definitely one of the most playful beats as well. And here comes the "drop" so to say. From playfulness, you will find yourself in the most peaceful & zen track on the release. It reminded me of the days I was wandering around Bali's Ubud area. The title of mommy x delayde's "flashes of calm" couldn't be more accurate. Beautiful!
When I got into this journey, I didn't know I would leave with a new favourite singer. Eli Way's "Stuck" featuring Emily Muli's gorgeous vocals is such a nice out-of-the-box addition to this album. Again, not sure how the guys selected those tracks, but things are definitely super well-thought. The New Zealand-based singer is just killing it.
There's a lot of new names towards the end of the release and by now I knew there's no way to be disappointed. Each of Lakey Inspired's "Saydee", Tane's "Zen" and santpoort's "rolling down this lazy wave" and HM surf's "Oracle Night" offers its unique piece of this sound puzzle.
My favourite things about those beats are the kick / somehow exotic feel of "Saydee", the lightness & the guitar motifs of "Zen", the build up in "rolling down this lazy wave" (flawless and tough for such genre) and the feeling of someone hugging you for good night in Essential's last track "Oracle's Night".
This is all wonderful. I am actually leaving this post nicely exhausted and more in love with the whole release. Thanks to everyone involved!
And yes, I won't forget to mention Ian Ewing x Philanthrope's "Smart Gurl in a Skort". These two and praise won't be enough. Plus, I am reaching 1.3k words and my mind just wants to drift away with more of this beautiful music.
I hope I didn't bore you to death until now. If there's one thing to take from this is the fact that Chillhop dudes and all these talented producers are making our chill possible. Brilliant release. Support good music, pre-order the vinyl here.