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Chillout:The Worship Xperience
Chillout:A Time To Worship 
(Waterfront/World Wide Media Group)
Ever read any of the tonier lifestyle magazines geared to urban(e) and musically adventurous hipsters? If so, you'll likely recognize the advertising and artwork of one New York City indie label's down-tempo compilation mix CD series so tellingly swiped by the producers of the Chillout worship music series.

If your tastes incorporate smooth/fusion/lite jazz radio, you'll recognize much of Chillout's musical modus operandi, too. Same goes for anyone familiar with the adult-leaning fallout of '80s new wave and new romantic. References to a gamut ranging from Double and Sade to Deep Forest and Enigma inform the goings on in these two collections by an ensemble of players and singers who give no hint of their identities anywhere on the discs' outer packaging. Not coincidentally, the aforementioned radio format has also lately taken cues from the post-wavers and romantics ilk. 

And never mind, for now, the theological and existential quandaries of pitting such an ideally active pursuit as worship with the presumptively sedated state of chilling out. Chillout may be a total rip-off of a general market niche trend, but it's an inventive, and sometimes bizarre, rip-off all the same.

The Worship Xperience recontextualizes Lenny Kravitz and U2 ("I Belong To You" and "I Still Haven't Fohnd What I'm Looking For" respectively) into worshipful context, but not even that is as far over the top as it's taken here. DC Talk's "Jesus Freak"-sans chorus, rapping and the trio's own Nirvana allusions-becomes a narcotized mantra of wondering at one's own peculiarity vis-a-vis one's Christianity. Covers of favorites by MercyMe, Lenny LeBlanc and Matt Redman (guess which songs;you're probably right) make for less quizzical listening.

A Time To Worship's "Oh No They Didn't!" moment comes by way of a total overhauling of Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody." Is that even a worship song?! Never mind that, too, just feast on the sultriest reading of Zimmy's last solo top 40 pop single you're ever likely to hear. By comparison, the closing retooling of The Beatles' "Long And Winding Road" makes as much sense as the inclusion of a Darlene Zschech song. And no, she doesn't get covered here.

Each Chillout volume thus far includes originals by the team that put these collections together. Best of that slim lot is arguably "Must Be More To Life," a slice of cold-chilled funkiness that makes Chic sound hot as The JB's. 

Whether as legitimate accompaniment to praise of the Most High or snazzy kitsch perfect for hijacking the local Starbucks' CD carousel, the Chillout series has shreds of genuine artistic revelation. Drenched by tasty cheese though they may be.
Jamie Rake 10/27/2005



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