CHI The Original Recordings (compilation)
Recorded live on 4-track cassettedeck in 1985 at a farm in Moordrecht, The Netherlands. Kuhl II (bonustrack) was recorded live at the Paradiso, Amsterdam The Netherlands.
1. Kuhl 06:22
2. Before The Mountain 08:03
3. Hopi 08:08
4. Twisted Camel 08:56
5. Mahat 20:22
6. Soppin 06:46
7. Dance 05:18
8. Kuhl II (Live) 02:56
Hanyo van Oosterom (bass, guitar, piano, percussion, synth)
Willem Cramer (loops, sequences, percussion, guitar)
Koos Derwort (bamboo flutes, clarinet and mouthsounds)
Michel Banabila (philicorda organ, percussion, bass, flute and fx)
Sound treatments by Jurgen Brouwer
Video by Fyko van Leeuwen
Previously released by Staalplaat/Container Music
Exclusive vinyl release by Astral Industries Feb 2016
Re-mastered by Noel Summervile
Artwork by Theo Elsworth
Marketed and distributed by Rubadub Records UK
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Astral Industries pluck out a cult ambient peach for reissue with Chi’s The Original Recordings (1985); a heady collection of communal invocations written on a farm in Holland during the fertile early ‘80s era of new age and post-punk exploration.
The recordings are wonderfully spacious, allowing the atmosphere of their environment to perfuse the music’s broad, sweeping layers and mingle with their pineal vision to become a vital, animated part of the record itself. For comparison, these recordings share certain similarities with the kind of records recently reissued by Amsterdam’s Music From Memory label, yet there’s something more mystic, less sweetened about Chi’s music that perhaps places it in a psychedelic Dutch lineage with later, ambient elements of Psychick Warriors of Gaia, or even the gentle, tactile tone of Machinefabriek music also made out in the sticks.
Definitely one to swoon for - highly recommended!
The Original Recordings draws material from recordings made on the commune’s Moordrecht farm in the mid-80’s, utilising modest synths, guitars and handmade percussion to craft riveting pieces of free-form expression that seem to embody the communal spirit of the group. Yet, this is music free of any of the clichéd new-age signifiers, more an authentic collection of naturally evolving, meditative pieces, steeped in a kind of rare collective telepathy that occurs when creating music as a living conjoint. The sedate mood is set on ‘Kuhl’, with gentle guitar strings interweaving with gentle hand-drumming and sweeping synths, ‘Twisted Camel’ nods to the kosmiche styles emanating from Germany at the time whilst ‘Dance’ conjures tribal, bordering on shamanistic vibrations with its primordial rhythms recalling the oddball quirks of ethno-warriors Futuro Antico. Whilst these comparisons can be made, the atmosphere feels absorbing, yet detached and unreplicable – truly unique music of a certain time and place.
This Dutch lot like to take it slow and steady. From their blissful, unfurling synth and organ chords to the gentle pounding of the hand drum, there’s a clear respect for all things dirgey, as if every repetition strikes with ever more hypnotic intent. Yes, it’s ‘new age’-y to some extent, but not limp and lifeless like the shit that new age usually gets associated with, exercising restraint and not reaching for the obvious ‘trippy sound’ dial on their synths. The hand drums rarely sound like hand drums too, apparently they’re all homemade percussions and you can tell by their strange and slightly ramshackle sound signature, giving the whole thing a more unique character. Bass guitars subtly underline the main jam, while what might be guitars or another synth makes quiet wailing pitch-bend things like the banshees of the night. Shoutout to the Marimba-esque tones of ‘Twisted Camel’.
Being a double 12”, The Original Recordings are lengthy and provide enough time to truly immerse you inside each of the quality drone-outs. Also, we all agree that that cover is brilliant.
After treating us to the subaquatic voyage of Deepchord’s ‘Lanterns’ and the messianic ambience of Wolfgang Voigt ‘Live In London’, Astral Industries excel themselves with a vinyl reissue of Chi’s masterful ‘Original Recordings’. The Dutch ensemble decamped to a farm in Moordrecht in 1985 and fully immersed themselves in a living, breathing collage of found sounds, electronic experiments and organic instrumentation. Dubby and psychedelic, the eight tracks on offer meander between the swampy exotica of Mike Cooper and the blissed out electronics of Cluster.
31 ans plus tard on se laisse happer par l’album entier dès l’écoute de chacun des morceaux. Surpris par la fraicheur des tracks qui sonnent très actuels grâce aux sonorités électroniques, on imagine bien à quel point le groupe était à l’époque avant-gardiste. Une sortie à ne pas louper, surtout quand on sait que les précédents disques ont été vendus autour de 100€ sur Discogs.
Live performance review at Flux:
Chi live at Oto, London
released August 5, 2013
CHI was founded by Hanyo van Oosterom in 1984. CHI was one of the first European groups that performed ambient music on stage. The premiere of their audio-visual show was in 1986 at The Lantaren/Venster in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
"Best ambient form the Lowlands ever" (Boudisque)
"Beautiful things grow from seeds planted" (Jon Hassell)
Hanyo van Oosterom on CHI:
"CHI started in the late punk years in the early eighties. A time of changes. Brian Eno and David Byrne released one of the best albums ever: "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" that was a real mindblower. Also artists like Robert Fripp, Jon Hassell, CAN and King Crimson were a big inspiration".
"We started doing sound experiments in an old farm in Moordrecht. In the summer all doors and windows open, birds flying in and out. In the distance we saw the highway to Rotterdam. In the winter we sat close together, no heating, only blankets, candles and brandy".
"We did sessions of 3 days and nights, we brought a full pa-system for every session (thanx Jurgen and Fyko) to get the right feel. Usually we played from the late morning untill sunrise. Fyko was playing his spacy videos and projecting trippy slideshows. Jurgen was creating all kind of effects and recording everything".
"We used the Commodore 64 to create sequences. We had two synths (Juno 60 and JX3P), a few guitars, and old Revox tapedeck for loops (some loops were 7 meters long running past bottles) and a lot of weird handmade instruments, percussion, bamboo flutes, an old, broken piano, a small Philicorda organ and various effects like water, shaked yogurt (Soppin), mouthsounds, streetnoises, etc".
"Basicly the music is half electronic, half acoustic. What made it special is that we also performed it live. We brought our personal hifi-sets on stage for easy listening comfort. We carried 20 monitors for the video and had 3 big screens for slideshows".
"Highlight was our Paradiso show on main stage (1987), broadcasted live by national radio. We ended up with a bunch of punks and freaks, but they really loved it. Our cassette was a collectors item at the legendary Amsterdam based label and recordstore Staalplaat. They released a CD in the nineties that you can still order online".
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