Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chemical Brothers dive in "Further"

Been listening all weekend and at work today... the new Chemical Brothers album, "Further" (Astralwerks, 2010)

High quality album, in my opinion. There are a lot of classic Chems moments, familiar sounds and effects, esp. enjoyable if you liked Surrender. The continuous mix (well, pretty continuous through at least the first 6 tracks) and a generally positive vibe of exploration are welcome, esp. after the past few records have seemed like disjointed singles/collaborations.

Other reviews are saying how "Further" ebbs and flows both as a whole ( a piece to be appreciated in one listen), and over the course of each song. Indeed, though the record is only ~52 mins/8 tracks, there are a lot of layers and elements to enjoy.

"Escape Velocity" and "Horse Power" are the closest things to their big-beat hits, with the latter in line with a lot of the Electronic Battle weapon series, a bit cheeky with the horse neigh samples, but still a techno beast. The former really beats the heck out of that Who-esque arpeggio, and it's a great 12 minute ride, although towards the end i kind of wanted them o stop tweaking the knobs, we get it!

"Another World" is pretty and powerful as a 70's nostalic piece.
"Dissolve" recalls "Let Forever Be" with its wall of distorted guitar sound, as well as portions of some of the "Surrender"-era outtakes. Great percussion!

"Swoon" is much smoother in this LP version than the chopped single edit (side note: what percentage of single edits are very good? They either cram too much in so the result is a mess, or they cut out the best passages). It's a little bit "safe" in terms of the Chem's craft, as the bassline and squiggly sample and automated percussion are

"K+D+B" again recalls something from "Surrender", maybe passages from "Sunshine Underground" or the title track itself...
Album closer "Wonders of the Deep" for me approaches Sigur Ros or M83 terrain, with underwater depth charges and percollating blips giving way to twinkly guitar and big heartfelt choruses. A great emotional finale, though there is an extended twinkly fade out that sort of diminishes the effect.

Is it their best record? No, but it's very very good. Not since "Surrender" have they changed up their style this much. Certainly their best since "Come with Us".

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