Saturday 6 August 2016

CHI - The Original Recordings

Cassette (1986) - CD (1996) - Vinyl LP (2016)

I played in Chi from 1985 until 1987.



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.

CHI is:
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

Input Selector fr:
Fondé en 1984 par Hanyo van Oosterom, Chi fut l’un des premiers groupes européens à jouer de l’ambient sur scène. Hanyo est à la basse, guitare, piano, percussion et synthé, Willem Cramer s’occupe des loops, séquences, percussions et guitare, Koos Derwort joue avec sa voix, des flutes en bambou et une clarinette, Michel Banabila à l’orgue, des objets trouvés, et le tout est traité par Jurgen Brouwer. « The Original Recordings » fut enregistré en live en 1985 sur un enregistreur cassette 4 voies, dans une ferme à Moordrecht aux Pays-Bas. Le 8 ème morceau de l’album, « Kuhl II », fut enregistré au Paradiso à Amsterdam. Sorti à l’origine en CD sur Staalplaat/Container Music, il fut remasterisé en 2015 et déterré par le label anglais Astral Industries sur lequel il sera pressé ce mois-ci après deux disques par DeepChord et Wolfgang Voigt, rien que ça. La sortie est annoncée pour le 29 février. Le voyage commence par Kuhl dont les nappes viennent petit à petit se lier aux percussions puis aux rifs de guitares et aux synthés. Before The Mountains prend la suite avec une boucle répétée tout au long du morceau, sur laquelle fluctueront percus et rifs de guitare électrique. Troisième piste de l’album, Hopi fut la première enregistré par Hanyo pour Chi. On croirait entendre une sorte de cithare mêlée à divers instruments, basse et voix. Arrive ensuite Twisted Camel, sans doute mon préféré de l’album, qui sonne plus électronique malgré le son des flutes de bambou, des gongs et des petites notes aiguës donnant un côté céleste à cette piste. Le deuxième disque s’ouvre avec Mahat qui pose l’atmosphère avec une nappe très douce sur laquelle évoluent percussions et flutes. Soppin’, plus rythmé, commence sur une basse presque acid greffée à des petits clappements, une mélodie magique et des airs de clarinette. Dance marque une note tribale et percussive avant de laisser Kull II clôturer plus suavement cette épopée unique. 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. (Arnaud)


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.


Norman Records:
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.

Vinyl Factory:
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.


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.

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 (1986), 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".

Jurgen Brouwer & Hanyo van Oosterom, 1985.



Chi first reunion after 30 years at Cafe Oto, London 2016:

CHI live in London 2016 (snippets) from Michel Banabila on Vimeo.

The CHI Factory 2016

1996 CD 'The Original Recordings' digipak frontcover - Staalplaat / Container: (design GeertJan Hobijn)


Commodore computer printed cover for the first 1986 cassette release via Staalplaat Amsterdam:

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