MVP features artists and their favorite albums.
I find it very difficult to choose favorites as such. I can never really limit myself to one thing. It was a close cut between Gonjasufi‘s MU.ZZ.LE (2012) and The KLF’s Chill Out (1990). There’s a 22-year gap between both release dates, but I find both albums as timelessly retro-futuristic as the other. Both albums take pop cultural influences from far and wide, the result being unique, beautiful, subtle, political, and impossible to put your finger on genre-wise. Both albums function as a single piece of music with no breaks. I ultimately decided to write about Chill Out, but MU.ZZ.LE was a close runner-up.
Although I’d heard of The KLF as a kid and had been impressed by their action-ism—such as the infamous burning of the money—it was not until 1999 that I came into contact with The KLD’s Chill Out and was truly able to fully appreciate the beauty and subtlety of their hybrid music. It has to be said that a fair amount of chemicals were being consumed in the flatshare where I was living at the time, so maybe that helped me appreciate the raved-out pathos of this uninterrupted soundtrack.
But there’s much more to it than that. The cross-cultural and historical context of the samples they used and the beauty that arose as a result—that’s what got me hooked. I’ve never really listened to any other music from The KLF. Their hits—which got onto the charts in the UK—were too poppy or just not my cup of tea. That’s probably why I largely ignored them until 1999.
That’s when I discovered The KLF’s Chill Out. I was living in Brixton, London, about year before I moved to Berlin. Coincidentally, it was recorded as a 44-minute live mix in the basement of a squat in Stockwell—an area which was only a few streets from my flat in Brixton—a decade before. Is there a correlation? I’d like to think so. I’d also like to say that I bought it on vinyl, or at least on CD, but the truth is I’d burnt it onto CD using the analogue CD burner that I bought in 1998. All of my friends would come over with CDs and we’d have CD burning sessions. Bad and evil, I know, but a sign of the times I guess, and I had lots of friends and tons of music because of it.
It had the sheep on the cover and the sampling of Elvis singing “In the Ghetto.”
It had Evangelical sermons, strange uses of reverb and pitch bends, obscure sounds (Tuvan throat singers and Basque shepherds in the Pyrenees) with ethereal synths underneath them, and sounds of birds, or of a train chugging along beside them.
I found the record fascinating. It was like the anti-rave anthem with a build-up that never really goes anywhere.