The Chemical Brothers: Further


RIYL: Fatboy Slim, 808 State, Crystal Method

After briefly flirting with the mainstream in 2005 thanks to their Indian-riffing rump shaker “Galvanize,” one would forgive the Chemical Brothers if they liked the look of the spotlight and decided to spend some more time there. It’s to their immense credit, then, that their post-“Galvanize” efforts have been the most noncommercial work of their career, and their latest album, Further, is the most insular album they’ve made to date, not to mention their most fitting album title.

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If they recorded for anyone other than Astralwerks, one of the last artist-friendly labels left standing, the A&R man would surely be telling them “I don’t hear a single,” because Further, well, doesn’t have one. In fact, the album has a lot of “silhouette” tracks, a trick that electronic acts use where they start with an existing song and keep adding bits to it while slowly removing everything from the original track until they have something brand new. The 12-minute “Escape Velocity” is a direct descendant of “It Began in Afrika” and “The Sunshine Underground” (but not as catchy as either), while “Another World” is a slower version of “Star Guitar” and “Horse Power” sounds as if it were built from the bones of “Break Shake Bounce” and “Hey Boy Hey Girl.” The closest the album comes to a pop song is the blissed-out psychedelia of “Dissolve.” Not coincidentally, this is also the album’s finest moment.

Further is both admirable and damned frustrating. Rowlands and Simons only make music for themselves, and that is how it should be (they refrained from using guest performers this time around, which is a nice change of pace), but we’re beginning to see the limits of their range as songwriters. They’re also trying just a bit too hard to avoid anything that could be classified as Big Beat, even though those records were some of the best things they’ve ever done. It’s good to be true to yourself, but there are times when it’s not such a bad thing to give the people what they want. (Astralwerks 2010)

Chemical Brothers MySpace page
Click to buy Further from Amazon

  

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