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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

A Time to Worship

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Mar
A Time to Worship
Sounds like … the relaxing "electronic new age" of Delerium, Moby, and Groove Armada with worshipful intent and vocals similar to Dido and Sarah McLachlanAt a glance … Chillout's not a bad idea and succeeds in creating a quiet atmosphere, but the familiar songs have been tampered with to the point where they are frustratingly unrecognizableTrack ListingI Belong to YouLovely DayI Can Only ImagineReturn to YouI Will Be Your FriendI Trust in YouAbove AllJesus FreakI Will Not Fear the FireReason for BeingI Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking ForThe Heart of Worship

As rightly noted by a friend of mine, Chillout would be a horrible name for a band. Fortunately, it refers to a genre of music similar to modern new age that's been popularized in Europe, as anyone familiar with Delerium, Groove Armada, Moby, and Chemical Brothers will attest. Now it also represents a series of worship albums that serve as the foundation for the newly established Waterfront record label.

This is being marketed as something new and unique to Christian music, but it's actually been introduced to America over the last five years. We've already witnessed releases from Apt.Core, Rivertribe, Andy Hunter°, 2001's Soul Lift project, and a handful of worship albums through Vineyard. You know the drill: soft drum loops, swirling keyboard pads, relaxed bass, some acoustic guitar or muted trumpet, and unobtrusive vocals intentionally reminiscent of Dido or Sarah McLachlan.

Here's where things differ between other chillout projects, mainstream and Christian. While this series is more relaxed and true to the spirit of the genre than other Christian projects, it doesn't rely on original material. Chillout—A Time to Worship uses familiar favorites like MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine," U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," Lenny Kravitz's "I Belong to You," and if you can envision a mellow version of it, dc Talk's "Jesus Freak." The other CD available, Chillout—The Worship Xperience (ugh), includes Bob Dylan's "Serve Somebody," The Beatles' "The Long and Winding Road," and worship standards like "Power of Your Love" and "Here I Am to Worship."

Using well-known songs in this way is not a bad idea. Unfortunately, most tracks consistently borrow a single line from the original melody to set it up, only to continue with the same lyrics set to an altered melody. It's one thing to abandon song structure for the sake of creating atmosphere, but these songs are virtually unrecognizable—isn't this a form of false advertising? Other tracks modify the words ever so slightly to fit a mainstream song into a worshipful context. There are plenty of other projects available that do a better job than this. The Chillout albums succeed in creating a relaxed musical ambience conducive to worship, study, and work, but expect to be disappointed if you're looking for an album of varied sounds or familiar favorites.

Note: though reportedly available in stores, at the time of this writing, Chillout was only available online at