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Released: 30th April 2001.

Chill out has become hot in recent months, but "Coffee Shop Volume 2" is vastly different to the highly commercial sound of this year's glut of mainstream compilations.

The first thing to point out about this album is it's definitely what you would call a "grower." Don't expect to be wowed by it first listen, as only a handful of tracks stand out. But after several airings, the tunes seem to melt together into a quality chill out album.

"Find A Way," by King Kooba, kicks off proceedings in great style, combining a shuffling beat with haunting, dreamy vocals and a fragile melody. It's a perfect tune to dream away a rainy day to. "Hazed Project," by Numb is a more upbeat, electronic affair, while 'Not Seventeen' by Mandalay, is a smoky mix of beautiful Bjork-ish vocals and deep, languid bass. This short track is sure to have you reaching for the back button on your CD player.

Other pearls include the rough-edged and urban "Do You Believe," by London Electricity, and the drum 'n' bass driven "Fresh," by Forces of Nature. Deep, rich bass simply oozes from "Early Dawn," by Careless, with the gentle breakbeat ensuring your head never stops nodding.

The only real criticism of this album is the way it is paced. For example, after the gentle delight of "Not Seventeen," you are violently removed from your relaxed state by the rather harsh and soulless "Bongo Tune," by Quarter. Variation is fine, but why not lead the listener into it gently rather than forcefully?

Definitely one for the chill out connoisseur. If you like the Megasoft Office series, you should definitely give this a listen.

* * * * (Alex Waddington)

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