Downtempo (sometimes referred to as "chillout", "chill" or "downbeat") is a genre of electronic music similar to ambient music, but usually with a beat or groove. The tempo, as well as the drum patterns of each track can vary. The beat can be restrained or simple. Sometimes the beats are more complicated and more foregrounded instead of being in the background, but even then they are usually less intense than other kinds of electronic music like trance and house. The tempo is often slower than that of traditional electronic dance music. Often the names "chill-out music" or "chill-out" are used to refer to songs demonstrative of the genre, but those names also refer to other styles of music, and downtempo encompasses a wider variety of styles than those terms alone would indicate. Due to the relaxing and often sensual or romantic feel of most downtempo music, it is a popular form of background music in 'chill out rooms' of dance parties, and many alternative cafes.
The 1990s brought on a wave of slower paced music which was played throughout chillout rooms—the relaxation sections of the clubs or dedicated sections at electronic music events. 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.