Playlist

About this playlist

‘80s Chill Out is an intriguing concept because the chill-out boom arrived with rave culture as the decade drew to a close. The idea of spaced out music to listen to in club back rooms, or at home after a night dancing, while suitably ‘refreshed’, didn’t really exist on record until 1990. Of course, there were early adopters, such as Colourbox, On-U Sound artists African Head Charge and Dub Syndicate, and the tune that kicked off the next decade’s spaced out phase, The Orb’s ‘A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld’. But, for the most part, our playlist follows a different path.

Most pop is lively, colourful, densely constructed and radio-friendly, but punk gave artists permission to experiment, and push the boundaries, slowing things down and paring them back. Original punk band The Stranglers had a run of offbeat hits as the ‘80s began, Japan went a step further with ‘Ghosts’, 4AD Records, while usually gothic in tone, was home to bands such as Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil and Clan of Xymox, all of whom searched for beauty in lower tempos, meanwhile electro-pop bands such as The Human League, Talk Talk, Tears For Fears, OMD, Heaven 17 and Soft Cell found the synthesizer offered a fabulous palette for heading in subtler directions.

An older generation of synth explorers were also tinkering with soundscapes, hinting at the ambient movement to come, artists such as Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Philip Glass and Penguin Café Orchestra. And then there are the one-off hits that just happen to fit the tone, the sort that might have been played beachside at sunset in pre-house explosion Ibiza, the likes of It’s Immaterial’s ‘Driving Away From Home’ and Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’.

Finally there are the space rockers, the bands that had always been searching for mind expanding sounds in their music, such as Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles, for whom the studio was merely another instrument in the search for stoned bliss. All the above and more lead us on our journey into the Easy ‘80s, a land that time forgot which turns out to be well worth disinterring.

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