8. Saru – “Bamboo Shadow”
This instrumental track brings together organic elements of traditional percussion with slinky and winding rhythms more in line with a funk song than downtempo. A good daytime chillout track.
9. Beth Orton - “Stars All Seem to Weep”
Beth Orton’s voice warbles and wails; it’s thin, yet not inconsequential. Walking the thin end of the wedge between Lilith Fair and clubland, Orton’s 1999 CD Central Reservation was part singer-songwriter, part dense electronic loops. This choice cut is a chillout classic.
10. Soma Sonic – “Simplicity”
Dominic and Francois Paterson, brothers from the Great White North, brought their country's cold icescapes to the recording studio with this soulful, lounge-y downtempo track, bringing a frozen pastoral ambience to chillout. Christelle Pehcin’s vocals sit behind the mix, drifting far from the beat. The piano break is a masterstroke.
11. Massive Attack – “Protection”
Tracey Thorn’s 2nd appearance on the list is this Massive Attack track, a staple of coffeehouses and upscale boutiques. The album version clocks in at close to seven minutes; the blend of old-school R&B, trip-hop, and chillout coupled with Tracey Thorn’s vocals make for essential 3am listening.
12/13. Symbion Project- “Soft Tempest” /Ulrich Schnauus –“ Between Us and Them”
Two of the best downtempo instrumental pieces; both are just over seven minutes long, with meandering looping melodies, densely intricate percussion, and otherworldly effects yet enough hooks to make them memorable.
14. Billie Holiday – “Speak Low (Bent Remix)”
Bent took the classic Billie Holiday version and gave it a swirling structure centered on a melancholy melody, evoking the retro styling of the original. The beat is almost bossa nova. This is a remix that might transcend the original- blasphemy to some, I’m sure.
15. Mantra, featuring Linda Oliveri – “Lullaby”
Cheesy downtempo for the Jersey Shore? Maybe, but it’s a catchy song with atmospheric music and solid vocals that makes for an unexpected surprise. This one is hard to find, but worth the search.