In 1990 The KLF created in this album, the first and still definitive ambient house classic. Allegedly excerpted from a live chill out session, this was made before anyone had used that term.
Loosely themed around a train journey through the southern USA, this mix of strange noises, effects and samples is 40 minutes of aural Temazepam. Do not try and operate machinery or drive vehicles after listening to this music!
It takes a certain frame of mind to appreciate this music, which, while usually drug-induced, can also be acheived through extreme exhaustion. It can be very good Sunday morning music: just don't expect to achieve anything that day. It is physically impossible to listen to this if you have any energy at all, as the glacial pace and steady repetitivity soon become frustrating. In the right frame of mind, however, it will lull you into a warm and cosy trance.
The album is mixed into one long piece, and the track separations seem somewhat arbitrary. In fact, one version of the album has it all as one track.
Chill Out starts with an ambient soundscape, including crickets and the ubiquitous train on which we are travelling. The journey takes in the sounds of sheep, radio evangelists...
"All the way down the East Coast, get ready. Get ready. Come back fat as a rat."
...plenty of pedal steel, Elvis's Ghetto Life and the sounds of the train, level crossings and motorbikes.
This unlikely-sounding collection of seemingly random sounds is skillfully woven by Cauty and Drummond into some of the most relaxing sounds you'll ever hear. The moment on Madrugada Eterna where a news report of a teenager's fatal car crash while drag racing is gradually introduced low in the mix is, strangely, the most relaxing point in the album.
The fact that this, the first ambient house release, and the one that coined the overworked term chill out, is still the best example of this genre is testament to the influence and originality of the KLF.
If (like me) you only buy one ambient album, make this it: for those times when you want to slip into a coma.
- Brownsville Turnaround on the Tex - Mex Border
- Pulling Out of Ricardo and the Dusk is Falling Fast
- Six Hours to Louisiana, Black Coffee Going Cold
- Dream Time in Lake Jackson
- Madrugada Eterna
- Justified and Ancient Seems A Long Time Ago
- Elvis on the Radio, Steel Guitar in My Soul
- 3 am Somewhere Out of Beaumont
- Wichita Lineman was a Song I Once Heard
- Trancentral Lost in my Mind
- The Lights of Baton Rouge Pass By
- A Melody From A Past Life Keeps Pulling Me Back
- Rock Radio Into The Nineties and Beyond
- Alone Again With the Dawn Coming Up
There are several different versions of this track listing, so take it with a pinch of salt. This version is the one on my CD.