Perfect 10 – The best Chillout tracks from the 90’s…ever!

We all remember the scenario, you’ve just got in from a solid ten or twelve hours of clubbing but for some reason you and your mates just can’t sleep. You’ve all sat around the TV to play Tony Hawks or Goldeneye and you need something to listen to that won’t make you want to go out again.

Cue the chill out selection. Chill Out was massive in the nineties for whatever reasons you may care to imagine and these were some of the true anthems of the genre, which spanned Movie Soundtracks, Ambient Electronica and Trip Hop.

Retroheadz takes a look back at some of the best and most memorable chillout tracks from the 90’s along with some you may not have heard before but should hunt out (or keep coming back this page) if you love the chillout genre.

10. US3 – Cantaloop

A quality piece of chilled Acid Jazz penned by Jazz legend Herbie Hancock among others, ‘Cantaloop’ was a real phenomenon of the early nineties. Featuring in adverts, TV shows and on heavy rotation on the radio it summed up the summertime vibe of the time perfectly.

9. Groove Armada – At The River

Blissed out samples and a dreamy vocal made this a must have track for any Chill Out compilation in the late nineties. Especially popular in the beach bar scene as well as the living room crowd Groove Armada captured the mood of the time, condensing it into six and a half minutes of pure heaven.

8. Portishead – Mysterons

Considerably darker than most tunes on this list ‘Mysterons’ still manages to fit the vibe seamlessly. Chill Out sessions often tended to have moments that would be more contemplative and sometimes frankly melancholy. Trip Hop played a massive part in the after club scene and Mysterons creepy synths always hit the spot with a generation hooked on X-Files.

7. The Sabres of Paradise – Smokebelch II (Beatless Mix)

A true classic in every sense ‘Smokebelch II’ appeared on almost every Chill Out compilation released at the time. Written by Andrew Weatherall, Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner the tune was the closing track to their seminal ‘Sabresonic’ album and was later used on a rather famous telecoms advert.

6. The Beloved – The Sun Rising

Chill Out wouldn’t be complete without the odd chilled house tune and this is surely the ultimate. With its timeless vocal and classic acid house bassline this was enough to send even the most hardened raver into a relaxed trance.

5. DJ Shadow – Midnight In A Perfect World

If you were of a certain age in the nineties (or the early naughties for that matter) then DJ Shadow’s ‘Endtroducing’ album will have been essential listening. Filled with chilled Hip-Hop beats and deep samples it was perhaps the ultimate in Trip-Hop although purists will debate that. This track was the perfect culmination of cut ups and smooth synths that sent the listener into that other realm.


4. Orbital – The Box (Part 1)

Orbital have been at the forefront of intelligent and experimental dance music since they burst onto the scene in 1989 and have never shied away from writing the odd ambient soundscape. ‘The Box’ was released in 1996 and captured the mood with its cyclic rhythm and ever building levels of depth.

3. Massive Attack – Sly

True leaders of the Trip Hop scene, Massive Attack were a staple for any after club playlist. Often dark and brooding with a dream like quality that’s always good to just sit back and zone out to. Sly is an ultimate chill out track from their 1994 classic ‘Protection’.

2. Nightmares on Wax – Night’s Interlude

Nightmares on Wax changed the landscape of hip hop forever with their second album ‘Smokers Delight’ in 1995. Many would claim this to be a Trip Hop masterpiece, ‘Night’s Interlude’ was the opening track and ushered in the blissful vibes found within.

1. Coldcut – Autumn Leaves (Irresistible Force Mix)

Whilst Coldcut may be more famous for their cut & paste breakbeat or their early Acid House they were masters of ambient music and Autumn Leaves is surely the pinnacle of the genre. The Irresistible Force Mix is ten minutes of pure relaxation with a euphoric edge taken to the next level by the legendary Mixmaster Morris.  Tune in and chill out.