2nd July, 2008

Zero 7 challenge AIR’s Moon Safari for the chillout album of the millennia with an elegant and enchanting debut.

Moon Safari was massive. With tracks like ‘All I Need’ and ‘Ce Matin La’, it set the benchmark for chilled electronica at a ridiculously high level. It still is your ultimate chill out fantasy. Times infinity. No other chillout CD has ever quite matched it, but Zero 7’s Simple Things isn’t far off. This album is more gorgeous than any girl/guy you can ever think of. Yes, it sounds as though it’s giving more than a nod to that beautiful 90s French album; you could even think of Simple Things as an up-to-date Moon Safari, or even, the British version. But don’t let that take anything away from it.

“Time goes so slow, days come and go.”

The beats, the bass, the lush strings arrangements, the acoustic guitars; everything here is blissfully effortless. The influences (other than AIR) are clear; trip-hop beats and jazz scales are masterfully scattered across the twelve tracks, as are several instrumentals, and those are where the duo really shine. ‘Red Dust’ and ‘Give It Away’ have enough grooves to prompt a romantic slow dance, but could induce feelings of sleepiness half way through; there’d better be some cushions on the dance-floor. The divine orchestral arrangements and guitar chord progressions of ‘Red Dust’ are typical of every track on this album, but work particularly well here with the song’s main flute melody. It’s a joy to listen to, as are the other instrumentals, ‘Polaris’ and ‘Lifukanele’s African influenced melodies.

zero-7“When I’m weak, I draw strength from you; and when you’re lost, I know how to change your mood. And when I’m down, you breathe life over me; even though we’re miles apart, we are each other’s destiny.”

Sia Quango’s contribution to the album is invaluable. Her voice perfectly fits the slow love songs ‘Destiny’ and ‘Distractions’, and turns the dreamy ‘In the Waiting Line’ into an enchantingly seductive number. And ‘This World’ is an absolute gem. Lyrically these songs are probably better than songs on Moon Safari; look no further than ‘Destiny’. But for smooth DX solos, check out the title track. Ethereal, smooth, sensual, call it what you will, it’s the album’s best track, with a super-cool jazz drenched finale solo and heavenly singing.

There are a few reviews knocking around claiming that Simple Things is nothing more than a cheap Moon Safari rip-off, a shameful attempt to beat the unbeatable. Don’t let them fool you. Simply put, this is a gorgeous album that should be in anyone’s music collection, regardless of taste; your ultimate chill out fantasy (after Moon Safari).

9/10

Published on sputnikmusic, July 2008 http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?albumid=6833

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