First appearing in 1996, the Global Underground imprint started out releasing a series of progressive house compilations mixed by high profile DJs and—not surprisingly—recorded in a wide range of global venues, from Paris and Dubai to Reykjavik and Shanghai. The success of the first releases in the series spawned several additional series, including Nubreed (featuring mixes by ‘up and coming’ DJs), 24:7 (featuring contrasting ‘day’ and ‘night’ mixes by the same DJ), Electric Calm (featuring mixes of mellower, chillout-type electronica), and Afterhours (featuring mixes styled in the vein of the venerable Back to Mine series). Unlike the main Global Underground imprint, however, both the Electric Calm and the Afterhours series are compiled and mixed by Global Underground’s resident DJ, the Forth.
While I haven’t heard either of the previous entries in this series, I can’t help but think Volume 3 is a bit uninspired. Perhaps it suffers in comparison to another recent acquisition of mine, a volume of the Back to Mine series mixed by Norwegian act Röyskopp. Or perhaps I simply don’t buy the breathless endorsement of the press release accompanying my promotional copy, which asserted that the Afterhours series “has become synonymous with post-clubbing afterparties… the music you put on after the night out, when you don’t want to listen to cheesy café del Ibiza or best of chillout series 28.” On the one hand, I applaud the GU publicist’s willingness to slam the seemingly endless supply of tedious chillout compilations (Flamenco Chill, Buddha Bar, and Ultra Chill, just to name a few). On the other hand, GU and the Forth can almost certainly do better than this.
The track-listing sounds promising, featuring as it does some fairly well-known purveyors of quality downtempo, including Richard Dorfmeister’s side-project Tosca (“Superrob”), George Evelyn’s Nightmares on Wax (“African Pirates”), Dutch collective Kraak and Smaak (“Keep on Searching”), German duo Boozou Bajou (“Keep Going”), Icelandic collective Gus Gus (“Moss”), and many others. But despite the occasional undiscovered gem (like “Twin of the Sun”, contributed by the Provençal (!) group the Last Atlant), even the contributions by well-established, creative acts were inexcusably boring and ultimately disappointing. Anyone looking for some mellow downtempo would be better off checking out the last couple volumes of Hed Kandi’s Winter Chill series, or nearly any entry in the Back to Mine series. Global Underground should stick to progressive house.