British dance duo The KLF birthed a monster with their 1990 album “Chill Out.” A 44-minute ambient collage that mixed snatches of the group’s own material with field recordings and samples of Elvis, throat singers and Fleetwood Mac, it would become the de facto comedown soundtrack for a generation of clubbers, spawning perhaps the least interesting musical genre of the 1990s in the process.
Two decades on, Tokyo-based producers DJ Yogurt and Koyas have teamed up to produce their own tribute to “Chill Out,” a thoroughly agreeable record that ultimately collapses under the strain of its own irrelevance. Rather than attempt a straight cover, the duo use The KLF’s original as a loose roadmap for their own ambient excursion, occasionally echoing motifs but otherwise using their own melodies and textures.
As a tribute, it works insofar as it reminds you how good the original was. Yogurt and Koyas manage to replicate the immersive drift of their source material but not its free-associative feel, and the introduction of New Age signifiers like bongos, violin and delay-drenched acoustic guitar doesn’t help.
Originally slated for release last August, the album was delayed when attempts to contact The KLF to get approval for a cover of their song “Justified and Ancient” went unanswered. Given that this is the same KLF who deleted their entire back catalogue in the U.K. and burned £1 million of their own earnings, that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Yogurt and Koyas might have done well to take the hint.