2. Kate Rogers – “Fine”
This is tight chillout. Really tight. No stray notes, narrow, pulsing, vibrant, with a sweet sax sample. Kate Rogers is one of those under-the-radar vocalists you wish everyone would know and love. Find it and listen to the Canadian chanteuse delivers the chorus with sly, restrained power, (I’ve been lost like you/Been every shade of blue/But somehow I know things will work out/Fine).
3. Boards of Canada – “Roygbiv”
Easily the catchiest two minutes and 39 seconds in the history of electronic music. Boards combines pastoral landscapes with digital and analog synths, effortlessly blending in laconic beats. Nowhere was that done better than with “Roygbiv”.
4. Sofa Surfers – “Sofa Rockers (Richard Dorfmeister remix)
Austrian trip-hop duo Kruder & Dorfmeister took fellow Austrians’ Sofa Surfers tune and remixed it for their 1998 release, The K&D Sessions. The result is a harmonic feast for the ears. It’s a spacey, jazz-influenced track that really transports the listener, simplistic in melody, unforgettable in execution.
5. Zero 7 – “In the Waiting Line”
An obvious choice, this Sophie Barker fronted song is Downtempo 101. It was a mid-sized hit for Zero 7 when it came out, and got even greater exposure when Zack Braff used it in the movie Garden State. But it’s such a damn fine downtempo song.
6. Emilina Torrini – “Wednesday’s Child”
There’s a short video for this song on Youtube; two people are driving around on a rainy day through some European town, smoking cigarettes as the camera peer out onto the bleary suburban landscape. It’s about the best mix of image and music that you can find. This Icelandic singer may not have Bjork’s musical vision or vocal force, but her trip-hop tinged debut gave the world this moody masterpiece.
7. Portishead - “The Rip”
Trip hop’s grand masters threw a curve ball with their (really) long awaited third record. Eschewing much of trip hop’s trappings, they blasted out dissonant rhythmic adventures. This, however, was one pure song — sparse, acoustic, and emotive. I highly recommend looking up the live version of “Rip” that the band did in April of 2008 on the Later With Jools Holland show. Jaw-dropping.