If you are looking for a brief list of downtempo artists, then here are some commonly known bands that belong to this genre. These artists produce electronic music which combines elements of jazz, soul, funk, hip hop, ambient, and dub. Downtempo is most closely related to trip hop and ambient music, being somewhere in between those two. While being more rhythm-driven than ambient, the beat is usually slower and less impulsive than in trip hop. Without further ado, here are those five downtempo artists that you requested for.
Kruder & Dorfmeister
Named after its members Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister, this Austrian duo mostly creates remixes of pop, hip-hop, and drum and bass songs. Madonna, Roni Size, Count Basic, Depeche Mode, and David Holmes are just a few of the artists that they have remixed. Sampler-processed vocals, echoes, and deep basslines are blended with trip-hop type of beats. This gives their music an unhurried, subtle, and serene mood.
Boards of Canada
It is one of those downtempo artists who is often considered as one of the downtempo electronica music pioneers. This music duo from Scotland can be distinguished by their unique musicscapes. Consisting of brothers Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin, Boards of Canada combines innocent child-like melodies with psychedelic and darker-colored sound textures, creating warm and melancholic moods. Their music videos contain themes of childhood, nostalgia, and nature.
A music duo from France, founded by Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benot Dunckel. Their main influences include the synthesizer sounds of the 1970s, Pink Floyd, Vangelis, and the soft rock duo The Carpenters. With its atmospheric sounds, Air is somewhat similar to Royksopp and Sigur Ros. In their debut album Moon Safari, they combined symphonic and disco-like elements, to create ambient, but at the same time joyous tracks.
It is a British duo, consisting of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker. When compared to other downtempo artists, their music is often said to be most similar to the aforementioned Air. Lush picturesque soundscapes and atmospheric sound effects are common to both artists. Zero 7 can be recognized by their laid-back grooves, gentle use of brass, and soft melancholic melodies, that are supported by colorful ambient textures, Rhodes piano, and sweeping strings. This all gives their music a delightful and seductive mood.
Thievery Corporation is a Washington, D.C. based duo, founded by Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. Missing out on what those guys have created, is like missing out on Batman and Robin – you better check them out. Even if you will not find their music “simply the best”, you at least know what the rest of the “downtempo geeks” are rambling about.
Their songs reflect their appreciation for a broad range of different music styles, including dub, acid jazz, reggae, Indian classical, Middle Eastern, Brazilian, and also lounge music. Their music also conveys a political message, opposing war and exploitative trade agreements, while supporting human rights and food programs. Thievery Corporation is undoubtedly one of the most prominent downtempo artists, as each of their recordings has brought something new to the table, thus broadening and diversifying the genre of downtempo music even more.