Fragile State Voices From The Dust Bowl

Way back in the day, the chill-out room was a space where exhausted ravers could cool down to ambient beats. But somewhere along the line, chill-out became its own genre, one claimed by those original ravers who still craved beats but were old enough to favour dinner parties over dance floors. Oversaturated by a million or so Café del Mar-aping compilations, the genre became supremely uncool. Nevertheless, down-tempo has been regularly pumping out great albums (not just songs) from the likes of Gotan Project, Royksopp, M83 and Zero 7. The latter’s touring keyboardist Neil Cowley, alongside jazz-house journo Ben Mynott, have formed the latest crew to claim the chill-out crown with their second LP Voices From The Dustbowl. While by no means groundbreaking, Fragile State never succumb to the wallpaper tendencies that beset so many of their peers. From their eight-minute opening opus "Four-Four-Four,” which fuses modulated ethno-vocals with whistling retro sci-fi synth and surprisingly energetic house beats, to the aptly dubbed piano’n’strings-based "600 Bliss” to the almost-rocking epic closer "Paper Tiger,” the duo demonstrate a knack for sweeping scores that manage to be relaxed without ridding themselves of personality. Fragile State seem to be saying that when soul, jazz and house get together for naptime, this is what they dream. (Bar De Lune)