Despite apparently clear connotations to their history, influences and peers (like Alex Paterson’s uncredited role in the KLF’s ‘Chill Out’ album, or the cover cows of Pink Floyds ‘Atom Heart Mother’), the album’s title is actually an instruction, or at least a friendly suggestion. Whilst Alex calls it “a protest album in reverse”, Thomas Fehlmann further explains, “we didn’t intend to rehash old chill out vibes. On the contrary. It’s the 21st century and it seems like a good idea for people to sit back and chill the fuck out, before continuing to act destructively. To chill out is to act consciously, guided from a calm centre.”
Featuring only the occasional presence of buoyant, gently rhythmic pulses and loops, Alex Paterson describes COW as “our most ambient album yet”. Sounds bubble, flutter and float through various atmospheres and moods, from bucolic and picturesque, childlike wonderment, the texture of bygone memories, to the universe’s infinite depth.
COW’s creation came together in different circumstances with a different working method to their last album. As Moonbuilding 2703 AD was originally commissioned by the English National Opera, the duo immersed themselves in that new world and maintained a close, continuous dialogue with the opera’s orchestrator and technicians. The production fell through due to budget cuts and the recordings were then adapted for album format, hence its 6 year gestation period.
COW on the other hand, took just 6 months to make. One of main reasons for its speedy completion was Alex’s recording of sounds whilst touring the world, straight to Ableton, using his iPhone. Field recordings were easily captured, whilst the countless hours of ‘downtime’ travelling, or at sound-checks became valuable moments for spontaneous creative laptop productivity.
‘COW / Chill Out, World!’ is out now on Kompakt. You can stream the entire album below;