Chillum

Chillum

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The sole album by Chillum was an oddity, in that it was for most intents and purposes an album that the British prog rock band Second Hand released under a different name. Unlike the two Second Hand LPs that had predated this December 1971 release, however, Chillum was an all-instrumental album. Some of it was actually taken from the tape they made when they were auditioning guitarist Tony McGill, while others were done after McGill had officially joined. While the result was pretty much a record of improvised instrumental music, as those things go it's pretty tight, and in some ways more accessible than Second Hand's far more ambitious and eclectic (yet in some ways jarring) previous LP, Death May Be Your Santa Claus. The real star of this effort is keyboardist (usually on Mellotron, but also on organ and piano) Ken Elliott, the focal point of a sound that is reminiscent of early-'70s Soft Machine in some respects, if not as planned out or distinguished. The song titles are certainly in the whimsically surreal mode à la Soft Machine and some other art rock and avant-garde acts of the time, including "Land of a Thousand Dreams" and "Yes! We Have No Pajamas." Other parts might remind you of the more instrumentally oriented passages of period acts like King Crimson, with "Too Many Bananas" featuring an extended drum solo, and "Promenade des Anglaises" getting into an unexpectedly lighter cinematic tropical mood. The 2010 CD reissue on Sunbeam adds historical liner notes and four bonus tracks, all composed by Elliott and usually featuring him on piano. These are mostly in a slightly lighter and more playful mood, with Elliott offering some tentative vocals on the melancholy ballad "This Is Not Romance."

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