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Open Space - The Classic Chillout DVD Volume One
Sony BMG/Sony Music Video . R4 . COLOR . 112 mins . E . PAL

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The Open Space series, released through Sony Music Australia, have provided a way to introduce some funky chilled tunes into Australian living rooms for those not open to the obscurities and house-vibes of the Ministry of Sound Chillout Sessions treatment.

Unfortunately, this disc is definitely not a chilled mix – it is, however, a decent mix of music. Confused? Well, the tracks selected are pretty funky in their own right, however in the whole scheme of things, the selected tracks aren’t always the most relaxing, with some shuffling of the playlist required to create a more soothing and sequential mix. This compilation, lacks any build up and feels rather muddled as to what mood it is trying to generate – funky, chilled, dance or mellow.

It's great to see the Perth outfit The Hampdens on board with their first single Croupier as a fairly simple yet stylistic video clip. Other stand out tracks are Mad About You from Hooverphonic, Corner of the Earth from Jamiroquai, My Culture from 1 Giant Leap and One Step Too Far by Faithless, featuring vocals by Dido. These tracks are all funky, chilled tracks which are cool to chillout to, yet the soothing nature of these is destroyed by some rather out of place tracks such as Silence by Delerium featuring personal favourite Sarah McLachlan.

Those of you who are fans of Delerium are probably sitting there gasping at someone complaining for Delerium’s inclusion on a chillout compilation. Well, the video included is sequenced to the audio from the edit of Sanctuary’s mix of Silence - yeah, the one with the heavy pulsing bass line and hypnotically flashing images – not really the most relaxing choice. Another bizarre choice of track is Take Me Away by 4 Strings, again suffering the same too-dancy-in-the-middle-of-chilled-music syndrome as Silence.

Now this is where it gets hard. Silence and Take Me Away are two of my favourite tracks. But they’re just so out of place on this compilation as chillout tracks, especially when better remixes are available such as the original edit of Silence. Yeah, I know you can’t just get the audio from any remix and plug it into an already-edited video clip, but its tracks like these that restrict this disc from becoming a true chillout mix. Personally, I feel that it would be beneficial if the track listing on the back of the cover listed what remix is featured on the video clips so that the public can be better informed on what version of the tracks is included, especially when tracks such as Silence have many variations on genre from the funky tribal sounds of the album version to the bass-thumping Sanctuary of DJ Tiesto remixes.

Sia’s track too, Taken For Granted, is fairly upbeat and disjointed, however Breathe Me is more fitting to the chilled theme of the disc and would keep you in that relaxed state, especially in between Sade and Anggun. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, are tracks that seem a little mellow rather than chilled, such as Amiel’s Lovesong, Bic Runga’s Get Some Sleep and Sandrine’s Trigger. These, whilst missing the abusive un-chilled bass track, just feel a little lonely on a “chillout” compilation and would be better placed on a “mellow” compilation.

Inspiration from the Open Space CDs fuels the track selection here, with a half-dozen or so tracks featured on these CDs in place on this compilation including Wicked Beat Sound System’s I Want To, Robert Miles’ Children, Deep Forest’s Sweet Lullaby, Jakatta’s So Lonely and Moodswings’ Spiritual High, tracks that are all quite fitting to the mood.

Now before you start writing your poison pen letters of complaint, let me say that when you remove the chillout genre from the equation you are left with a rather cool mix of music, well rounded, if still ill-sequenced, but ultimately pretty sweet with so many favourites on board and only the odd track unknown or worse, abused by a radio station, to contend with.

Track listing...

Enigma - Sadness Part 1
Deep Forest - Sweet Lullaby
Massive Attack - Protection
Dido - Here With Me
Robert Miles - Children
Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan - Silence (Sanctuary Mix Edit)
Jamiroquai - Corner of the Earth
Leftfield - Release the Pressure
1 Giant Leap - My Culture
Portishhead - All Mine
Faithless feat. Dido - One Step Too Far
Moodswings featuring Chrissie Hynde - Spiritual High
Wicked Beat Sound System - I Want To
Strawpeople - Trick with a Knife
Hooverphonic - Mad About You
Sandrine - Trigger
Endorphin - Sex and Violence
Bent - Always
Saint Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Bic Runga - Get Some Sleep
Sneaker Pimps - 6 Underground
Sade - No Ordinary Love
Sia - Taken for Granted
Anggun - Snow on the Sahara
4 Strings - Take Me Away (Radio Edit)
Jakatta - So Lonely
Electribe 101 - Tell Me When The Fever Ended
The Hampdens - Croupier
Amiel - Lovesong (radio version)

  Video
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Like many of Sony’s compilations in the past, the video quality is rather mixed, with all clips presented in an un-enhanced 1.33:1 aspect. Video clips are very artistic in their own right, so some purposely feature grain and artefacts for specific effect, likewise with colours, brightness and contrast. Generally speaking, things are clean from major MPEG artefacts, yet the compression to fit 29 tracks to a single-layer results in some soft and blocky edges here and there such as Dido’s Here With Me. This could be a source issue or a compression issue, however it looks just a little messy. Colours are generally solidly presented with no low-level noise and bold shades, with shadow detail, reasonable and hard to judge as the fine line between art and clarity is often blurred in music videos. Sadly, some tracks such as Deep Forest’s Sweet Lullaby look as if they were sourced from a poor VHS tape, giving the compilation a rather unbalanced feel.

Surely a music company would realise the importance of a pure uncompressed PCM track on a music compilation DVD, but still Sony are yet to deliver on this territory. We get a fairly decent Dolby Digital 2.0 track, but the audiophiles out there they will have to listen to a CD to get the clearest sound. OK, saying that, the audio isn’t anything to stick your nose up at, but it seems strange that a compressed format was selected as the sole format with a potential dual-layer break leaving plenty of room for a linear PCM track. Sure, difficulties in authoring a dual-layer disc do increase, and this is only a measly compilation in the whole scheme of things, but this is just this guy’s opinion. Bass levels are fairly decent, with one or two tracks a little bass-heavy, but generally things are super-duper and the sound is faithful to the original recordings with clear, synched vocals and not a whisper of a crackle at all during the presentation.

The menus are slightly animated, with clean transitions between menus, and are presented in a 1.33:1 aspect. Apart from some credits there is nothing in the way of extra features – no artist biographies or anything. There is one quirk though. Being a fan of The Hampdens, this reviewer obviously went straight to the clip selection page to get straight to Croupier. But oh no, the menu is broken. When you press enter on both Croupier (Track 28) and Lovesong (Track 29), the menu responds to the button press by showing the correct change in subpicture but does not link to a PGC, and sits there with future commands not always working correctly. The only way found to use the menu again was to press the menu button to return to the last played PGC, or the first PGC in the title, and then press menu again to return to a menu with a clean slate. Just don’t push one of those buttons again...

With the Open Space CDs in mind, this reviewer was a little disappointed at this compilation of what is so-called “chillout” music with the inclusion of some inappropriate up-tempo tracks and a sometimes lacking sequence in the playlist. However, throw the chillout concept away and you actually have a pretty slick mix of some cool clips. The video quality is reasonable but nothing special, and the sole Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track leaves the audio boffins gasping for a linear PCM track that we’re still waiting for. If you’re a fan of these artists, you already know this one is a keeper.


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  •   And I quote...
    "It’s a decent mix, but not very chilled..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS530
    • TV:
          Sharp SX76NF8 76cm Widescreen
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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