Is it time to get chilled? Christopher Mellor and Matt Scott get goosepimples
The chill out room was born in the late 1980s when a series of fortuitous events created a special moment at a party called Land Of Oz at Heaven in London. Promoter and DJ Paul Oakenfold invited Alex Patterson of The Orb and Jimmy Cauty from the KLF to play in the small upstairs bar. The bar was called The White Room, and the small gatherings there made big ripples.
Says Alex Patterson: “We were told by Oakey: we don’t want anyone dancing in the room. So we thought it’s best if we do everything laying on the floor, so we get people laying on the floor with us. We could have been the laughing stock of clubland – but then suddenly chill out lounges were all the rage and chill out music was all the rage.”
The pair played loops of tracks like 808 State’s “Pacific State” or Sueño Latino’s eponymous hit, overlaid with BBC sound effects, birdsong, Strauss Waltzes, ambient music, old country ballads or anything else they felt like, to make the kind of ambient collage that eventually turned into The KLF’s seminal Chill Out album.
There is another important figure in our tale: the DJ famous for wearing only silver holographic outfits. Mixmaster Morris. He was, of course, there in the Land Of Oz VIP.
“I went to Land Of Oz in 1989,” he recalls. “Paul Oakenfold told me to go. It was very loud and I was very high. I managed to sneak into the VIP, where I saw the White Room for the first time. Alex Paterson was DJing and Youth and Jimmy Cauty were jamming. It was a brilliant mess, but also very inspiring, and I met a lot of people that night, like Richard Norris and Fraser Clarke. I asked Alex the next week if I could come and play sometime and he told me to bugger off.”
A few years later, Morris was in Frankfurt, with Alex Patterson and some sheep. “This was the XS club, beneath the opera house. They had an ambient weekend, Alex the first night, and me the second. There were four or five live sheep in the club, and sheep shit all over the place. Sven Vath turned up at the end and demanded that I play the whole four-hour set again. Which I did.”
This extract is from a longer piece which appears in Idler #79, July/August 2021
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