Various (mixed by Chris Coco & Rob Da Bank) - The Blue Room
The Blue Room is one of the best shows broadcast by BBC Radio 1. Due to the Saturday 5am - 7am time slot, it's also one of the station's best kept secrets. (Those wanting to acquaint themselves can stream the previous week’s programme from the Radio 1 website.) With a wide-ranging mix of down-tempo, mind-expanding music, it would be fair to assume the show is aimed at those not yet gone to bed rather than those waking up.
However, The Blue Room is so much more than chill out to soothe the minds of frazzled clubbers. Presenters Chris Coco and Rob da Bank (each in charge of a CD here) are obviously men with a love and knowledge of music, willing to throw in choices to surprise or educate the listener. The track-listing of the compilation does a good job of documenting the many styles played on the programme. Much of the music is quirky or slightly obscure, but, if, like me, you’ve come to wonder what the point of stations rotating the same twenty records for most of the day is, then you may just find this a breath of fresh air.
The highlights of CD1, mixed by Chris Coco, are Ulrich Schnauss’ Crazy For You, basically warm guitar tones over a beat, Calexico’s lyrically interesting Not Even Stevie Nicks, and Erlend Oye’s Ghost Trains (sounding like Royksopp’s Remind Me). Dub fans might appreciate Ja-Man Allstars and The Bees remix of The Polyphonic Spree’s Light And Day/Reach For The Sun (heavenly dub, if you will). From The Flaming Lips comes All We Have Is Now, and if you like that band you might well enjoy My Morning Jacket’s epic Phone Went West. Moly’s guitar instrumental Me And Lucifer is reminiscent of Mogwai, while Ultrafox and Ladytron provide some twisted pop music. The Orb track from which the show takes its name is present in a remix so short it’s barely recognisable, especially given the original is over quarter of an hour in length. Much of the rest of CD1 is more typical chill out material; mainly gentle beats and pretty female voices (from Hope Sandoval on On The Low to strange ethnic warblings courtesy of Ikon).
CD2, mixed by Rob da Bank, introduces itself with the blissed-out head music of Hubtone’s Seeing Things (all harps and breaking waves), moves sharply to killer soul (Chungking), ahead-of-its-time mantra (Harpers Bizarre’s Witchi Tai To; you could imagine this being done by The Beta Band), psychedelic indie (Psychonauts), kooky hip-hop (Peven Everett) and gorgeous Air-style electronica (Impossible Beings). The rest of the CD can’t quite maintain this level of genre-hopping (and excellence), but still contributes laid-back house (Plej), spooky dub (Lazyboy) and even The Cure to the mix.
While it won’t have much appeal to the casual listener, fans of the show and those looking for a sprinkling of weirdness with their chill out should enjoy the interesting and varied line-up. Now, pass that spliff...