From a genre perspective the realm of chillout music is often derived from it's early 90's origins in Ibiza. A place home to the start and rise of Cafe Del Mar. It's not so often we are provided with the pleasure of covering chillout music, but when were gifted with a new album of such magnificent quality we cannot help but feel privileged and amazed to hear this one first.
A Better Life consists leading producer Phil Daniels and his accompanying vocalists on the album, Herica and The Wolf, and Pete Rawcliff. The intention was clear, to create a body of work that encourages us to wind down, take time out and immerse ourselves in a world of ambient relaxation and intimate self reflection. Over the course of eighteen months the album was finally finished.
From our view that goal was easily achieved within the first twenty second of the album. Distorted smooth synths and light padded drums build up towards a bliss combination of vocal and instrumental elegance on the LP opener Mono Heart. There are also distinct Middle Eastern influences here, sharp violin twists and arabic echoing vocal melisma really set the mood easing us into the track. A wise choice for a first track and a fantastic opener.
As we progress, the themes of the album remains fully consistent, Dreaming Of The Beach has some great piano backing and lyrics, the constant electric guitar riff gives us a throwback to the ColdPlay mega hit "Fix You" The drums and percussion begin to pick up from the 02:50 mark making for a beautifully arranged progression. What's most impressive here on this track and the album as a whole is that nothing feels overworked or stagnant. There is always something new to expect, which is a real production credit to the leading man Phil Daniels. His choice to use such a vast array of instruments have worked absolute wonders on the project.
"Fuego" is a nice interlude track, the spoken word section in Spanish transports the listener to the Ocean Beach front. Ibizan sun worshippers will feel right at home with this blasting out on their playlists. The trombone section is also nothing short of incredible and make for a truly powerful and quite emotional first listen.
"Against the Breeze is a more uptempo piece but contains an underlying theme of sadness on the lead vocal. Which again feels incredibly emotional. "A Moment Of Nothing" is definitely the most experimental track on the album, a brave song that has all the remarks and inspiration of film score legend Lisa Gerrard. The outro is vocal bliss with the reverb adding a significant mysterious edge to the song.
Finally we reach the concluding record. "Take a Deep Breath" There's no debating it, this is classic Cafe Del Mar chillout nostalgia, hitting all the way home, it's stunning, reassuringly light and the progression is mesmerising. The background vocals are great and so is the guiding voice that overlays the track. Just a great final song
Overall A Better Life have created a masterpiece here, they deserve every ounce of recognition because their hard work is on full display, if their future music is of a similar quality then were sure that an amazing career is indeed ahead.
Make sure you listen to the album on it's highly anticipated release on Saturday May 1st