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Chemical Brothers

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  • Surrender
  • We Are The Night
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    Chemical Brothers

    Dig Your Own Hole 7 ( 1997 )
    Block Rockin Beats / Dig Your Own Hole / Elektrobank / Piku / Setting Sun / It Doesn't Matter / Don't Stop The Rock / Get Up On It Like This / Lost In The K-Hole / Where Do I Begin / The Private Psychedelic Reel

    You know, i've long had a dream for a certain vision of a future concerning dance/techno artists, and it's very simple. Rather than have two electronics whizz kids making music to please themselves, and hopefully many others, instrumental pumping beats, 'Block Rockin Beats' in this case! Rather than that, we have two electronics whizz kids ( usually aged in their mid-thirties, why are a lot of these dance guys so middle-aged? ) plus a dynamic singer with intelligent or interesting lyrics. A permanent singer. The Chemical Brothers go half way, by employing guest vocalists to give their songs another dimension. Noel Gallagher of Oasis pops up on the The Beatles 'Tomorrow Never Knows' -tastic 'Setting Sun', and very enjoyable it is too. But, imagine an act like The Chemical Brothers with a regular front-person? Someone who could really sing, really write lyrics and add a whole other dimension? It's a thought, and it's my vision of a certain future for dance/techno. And before somebody mentions 'The Prodigy' at me, that wasn't quite what I was thinking. Not an MC, but a regular vocalist. What happens during 'Setting Sun' after all? Noel Gallagher sings, provides another aspect and dimension to an otherwise already fine, exciting and 'pumping' dance track, but another dimension it is. He doesn't rap like an MC, thank god! He sings. But, enough of all of this. It's just an idea. 'Block Rockin Beats' is a fine production, although it already sounds dated heard five years later. The title track opens pretty furiously, it's tight, eight minutes long and rather fine. 'Piku' is better though. Soft electronic opening, well layered beats coming in to reach their peak volume. Several different melodic layers combining very well. 'It Doesn't Matter' is more intelligent and well produced dance/techno, although I can find very little to actually say about it other than to admire the bass sound, which is a pretty fantastic bass sound.

    'Dont Stop The Rock' opens all beeps and beats. Straight techno music, could almost be anybody. 'Get Up On It Like This' has something that sounds like a squealing guitar all through the introduction, 'Lost In The K-Hole' introduces some rap/hip-hop beats for a little variety, 'Where Do I Begin' has an unusual mixture of sounds, a particular way of layering those sounds and becomes trademark 'Chemical Brothers' as a result. The closing track joins 'Setting Sun' in being a highlight of this album. Not a great or life-changing album. Just a fun thing to listen to. 'The Private Psychedelic Reel' is another trip back to the mid to late sixties for inspiration, updated fully for the techno generation, and with a repeating melodic figure running throughout. It's pretty good.

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    Readers Comments

    Nick erfinagerfin@hotmail.com
    You said that you wanted to hear an electronic band with a frontman, someone who could sing and write lyrics as well? Judging by the reviews on your site, you should really pick up a few Underworld albums, which feature frontman Karl Hyde, who really makes their music so unique. He used to be part of the 80's new wave generation, in fact, if you've ever heard the song "Underneath the Radar"...that was him! And while his 80's albums were medicore at best, the first two Underworld mk2 albums are amazing, some of the best techno of the 90's, and their debut is in fact my favorite record of that decade... As for this album, I can't see rating it below Surrender, but that's just me. Dig Your Own Hole was really something when it was released...I really see it as the only really sucessful fusion between rock music and electronic.

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    Surrender 8 ( 1999 )
    Music Response / Under The Influence / Out Of Control / Orange Wedge / Let Forever Be / The Sunshine Underground / Asleep From Day / Got Glint? / Hey Boy Hey Girl / Surrender / Dream On

    A step above the previous album, more carefully considered instrumental tracks, more songs featuring guest vocals. Noel Gallagher re-appears to pretty much reprise his last outing on a Chemical Brothers album. 'Let Forever Be' is another nod towards The Beatles 'Tomorrow Never Knows'. If Oasis really were the new Beatles, they'd be making their own techno 'Let Forever Be', but why don't we just let that forever be, and carry on? Apologies for the horrible pun. 'Music Response' is great! A Chemical Brothers instrumental techno track with weird bending sounds, calculator beeps, Kraftwerk influences, modern dance. It's tight, surpremely well produced and will live for the ages! Ok, so who knows about that, but it's good, anyway. One thing that 'Surrender' does that 'Dig Your Own Hole' didn't is sound 100% correctly sequenced. 'Under The Influence' flows perfectly from the opening track, the Bernard Sumner from New Order assisted 'Out Of Control' flows perfectly from 'Under The Influence. All of these are good, solid, entertaining songs a step above similar techno/dance efforts of the era. 'Orange Wedge' introduces another number of new sounds, and it's refreshing to hear something new within this genre. 'Let Forever Be' follows, it may well be 'Setting Sun' part two, but it's a more refined 'Setting Sun' and a 'Setting Sun' with an absolutely thumping bass groove. So, that's alright then! 'The Sunshine Underground' lets us relax, an eight minute bliss-chill out trance whatever else is going on piece of meditation. Or something like that, anyway. Not a single bad track so far, on the album. None that I can think of, anyway. 'Asleep From Day' is absolutely beautiful, and a large part of the credit is down to the guest vocalist, Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star. Her voice is something else, like a hundred thousand weary and broken country singers with a dose of the blues and heartbreak and a little piece of heaven, echo, and outer-space mixed in. Really! After that piece of beauty, 'Got Glint?' returns everything to beats and techno, and you may well start to appreciate and enjoy the variety 'Surrender' offers the listener. It comes across almost like a compilation of different bands, but remains a cohesive listen. Credit to The Chemical Brothers, ultimately. It's their project, and they really are good producers.

    'Hey Boy Hey Girl' was released as the first single, and turned heads, had people bopping in the dance-clubs, "super-star DJ's", not quite social comment, but then it's not meant to be. The way this track builds up is supreme, perfectly done and impossible to imagine being done better. The music changes several times throughout this five minute track, and there you are. A winner! The title track returns to Kraftwerk mode, the closing 'Dream On' is a Mercury Rev assisted seven minute repeating vocal refrain. Quite pretty, not terribly exciting, certainly not 'Asleep From Day', but what are you gonna do? A good album! I'd recommend it, and I just have.

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    Readers Comments

    Jonathan Roseveare jrr1@ukc.ac.uk
    At last someone who realises that Surrender is better than Dig Your Own Hole. Although a good album, the latter album is, let's face it an album of quality singles filled with 'filler'. Surrender though apart from the title track (it's sequenced well in that if your gonna have a bad song it has to be the penultimate one on the album!), all the tracks are fantastic. Out Of Control is just awesome too! Love it! My fav album of 1999!

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    We Are The Night 6 ( 2007 )
    No Path To Follow / We Are The Night / All Rights Reversed / Saturate / Do It Again / Das Speigel / The Salmon Dance / Burst Generator / A Modern Mightnight Conversation / Battle Scars / Harpoons

    It's been a long time since I sat down and listened to The Chemical Brothers. They seemed to perfect whatever it was they were looking for, then it seemed they were unable to move in any direction other than downwards. The same happened to Orbital, the same happened to Prodigy. At a certain point in space and time, it appears that electronics acts simply run out of ideas. Well, that isn't true of every act of course, yet The Chemical Brothers sound disturbingly old hat here and not in a plesant, nostalgic way, either. This material largely would have been rejected by the band themselves as not good enough ten years ago. Now it's released as a brave new direction for the band when it actual fact it is nothing of the sort. There are positive things on the album. The title track is fairly inventive although sounds more like Orbital than The Chemical Brothers. It's got a twinkly thing going on, laser beams and propulsion. The closing track 'The Pills Won't Help You Now' is the comedown track, three minutes of sad sounding sweetness followed by three minutes of attempted Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev dreamscape that doesn't quite work as well. On the otherhand, 'Do It Again' and especially 'The Salmon Dance' see Chemical Brothers going for lowest common denominator by appealing to the pre-teen market and abjectly failing. 'The Salmon Dance' deliberately features one of the most moronic and unapealing raps of all time, 'Do It Again' is simply stuff we've all heard before and done far better and more inventively.

    A favourite track of mine, if I had to pick one from this set, would be 'Battle Scars'. Featuring singer Willy Mason, 'Battle Scars' sounds pleasingly 80s with vocals and lyrics that add another layer seemingly at odds with the music, yet it works together. Basically, Willy Mason lifts the instrumental track and turns this whole thing into a song that's more than the sum of its parts. 'A Modern Midnight Conversation' also seems to take in 80s influences and suddenly it seems blatantly clear to me where The Chemical Brothers ought to be heading. Rather than uninspired re-treads of the 90s formula, they need to take a look at the early 80s synth-pop scene and update that sound. It's not entirely original of course, others are doing exactly the same, yet the couple of tracks where The Chemical Brothers do just that are easily the most enjoyable tracks here.

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    Readers Comments

    Nick erfinagerfin@hotmail.com
    6/10 is right. I think a lot of people remembered how much they liked Dig Your Own Hole and came down really hard on this one though. My favorite tracks went unmentioned in your review - "Burst Generator" is epic, and "Saturate" and "Das Speigel" are great tracks as well. "Do It Again" is pretty much the worst single they ever put out, about as apalling as "Aftermath" by the Orb was. I don't know if electronic acts necessarily burn out but it does seem to be true for lots of them - these guys are certainly losing their spirit, Fatboy Slim's last two albums were trash (for that matter, so were his first two?), Orbital kind of lost it (although they broke up before they really had a chance to ruin things), the Prodigy apparently did, and so on and so on. I guess the Orb lost it for a while too but their last album was quite good. It's an unfortunate trend but I really don't think it has to be that way (Underworld's new album is coming out soon, and I think it sho! uld be great), but the dance music scene has yet to really progress and many of the 'mainstream' acts find themselves going nowhere. But I'll hold out hope for them yet!

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    Further 7 ( 2010 )
    Snow / Escape Velocity / Another World / Dissolve / Horse Power / Swoon / K+D+B / Wonders of the Deep

    Did Chemical Brothers need to reclaim their serious artistry which they'd arguably lost somewhere down the line? Well possibly, we'll all have different views on that, but 'Further' attracts my attention like no Chemical Brothers album has done in a good ten years. The opener 'Snow' has no pumping beats, nothing really approaching a musical hook either. It's a shifting bed of quiet psychedelia over which a female vocal repeats 'shifting me higher' like a mantra. It raises hope that Chemical Brothers have moved focus away from penning chart thumpers towards crafting a whole, cohesive LP. For those of you that like dancefloor Chemical Brothers, 'Horse Power' is a great track complete with real sampled Horse neighing sounds. Well, the thick bass lines, slivery synths and accomplished, tensing building beats all do it for me - it's too left-field to be something you'd imagine in the charts and that's a good thing in this case. Oh yeah, 'Horse Power' is utterly exhilarating and mental! 'Another World' is a five minute track with hallucinogenic qualites, sampled or 'not important' female vocals repeating a mantra over a dreamscape, it's all very imaginative and accomplished and far better than I had been hoping for from Chemical Brothers this time round.

    'K+D+B' is packed this with new sounds, it has a different feel, floating along building tension, a 'higher, HIGHER' voice buried in the music like a ghost before shafts of light appear with a typically 80s styled analogue synth. You could argue if you were mean that the track doesn't really go anywhere, yet i'm slightly reminded of New Order when listening to this. If New Order had continued with dance experiments they may just, with a stretch of the imagination, have ended up sounding a bit like this. We wrap things up with 'Wonders Of The Deep', the 8th and final song on a 51 minute long album. For those mourning Noel Gallagher sung chart hits, 'Further' isn't the album for you. By not repeating their past, Chemical Brothers haven't so much started again as got out a broom and some air freshner and given their place a good tidy round. Anyhow, 'Wonders Of The Deep' is another shifting, uneasy to grasp burst of psychedelia, complete with this albums common melodic refrain, something resembling the classic electronic randomness of the intro to The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again'. Sunshine bursts through and you wake up from your drug induced haze not quite sure what's happened but somehow contented in any case.

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    this page last updated 19/09/107

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