Downtempo is a genre of electronic music similar to ambient, but with a greater emphasis on rhythm, and is not as earthy as trip-hop.[1] Examples may incorporate "slow, tranquilized beats, garish synths, and melodies that sound like they were filtered through the AM radio of an '84 Dodge Dart."[2]


Zero 7 in concert with Sia Furler

The 1990s brought on a wave of slower paced music which was played throughout chillout roomsthe relaxation sections of the clubs or dedicated sections at electronic music events.[3] Downtempo music started to surface around Ibiza, when DJs and promoters would bring down the vibe with slower rhythm and gentler electronic music upon approaching sunrise. In the late 1980s, trip hop emerged from Bristol, which combined elements of hip hop beats, drum and bass breaks, and ambient atmospheres at a lower tempo. At the end of the 1990s a more melodic instrumental electronica incorporating acoustic sounds with electronic styles emerged under its own umbrella name of downtempo.[4]

In the late 1990s, the Austrian duo Kruder & Dorfmeister popularized the style with their downtempo remixes of pop, hip-hop, and drum and bass tracks with influences of the '70s soul jazz. Britons Steve Cobby and Dave McSherry, producing under the name Fila Brazillia, released a handful of downtempo, electronica and ambient techno albums that propelled the style further. Meanwhile, the Washington, D.C. locals Eric Hilton and Rob Garza, better known as Thievery Corporation, have introduced the Brazilian sound into the style after discussing the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, and enriched it further by combining elements of Jamaican dub and reggae.[5]

See also


  1. "Downtempo: Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  2. HINKES-JONES, LLEWELLYN. "Downtempo Pop: When Good Music Gets a Bad Name". The Atlantic. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  3. "A history of downtempo and chillout music". Toucanmusic. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  4. Dalling, John (2006). "Chillout and Downtempo Electronic Music, a History". Retrieved 2007-03-26.
  5. Johnson, Martin (February 17, 2002). "Downtempo: A Genre With Plenty in Reserve". The Washington Post. p. G4. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
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