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24/07/2010 The Chemical Brothers - 'Further' 30/04/2010 The Chemical Brothers announce new album details
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|The Chemical Brothers - 'Further'|
|24-07-2010 14:58 | 0 comment(s)|
| Back when people were still figuring out what electronic dance albums were supposed to be, the Chemical Brothers worked out a durable and recognizable formula, and they stuck with it: dancefloor bangers up front, woozily expansive psychedelic tracks at the end, big-name collaborations wherever possible. That formula served them well through three classic albums (Exit Planet Dust, Dig Your Own Hole, and Surrender) and one pretty good one (Come With Us). But they stuck with it two albums too long. The duo's last two full-lengths, 2005's Push the Button and 2007's We Are the Night, were, respectively, a spotty mess and an outright disaster. After an album like that, it's time to blow things up and start again, and that's what they've done with Further.
Further doesn't open with a banger. In fact, there's barely a single track among the album's eight that could be termed as such. There are no hackneyed stabs at British chart relevance, like 2005's clumsy and pandering but (let's face it) successful Q-Tip collab "Galvanize", which still gets play as go-to-commercial music during NBA games. Further features vocals on about half of its tracks, but they're all anonymous, mostly used to repeat one mantra or another over and over. And rather than attempting some sort of crossover-dance smash, the Chems do something new here: an album-length suite of warm, gooey utopianism, one that never smashes you over the head with obvious hooks or high-concept floor-fillers. It's a slow, patient piece of work, all vibe and no frenzy. The drums don't kick in until a couple of minutes into track two, and they sound glorious when they finally do. Further is a retrenchment move, and it's a good one.
That retrenchment works best during the album's first two tracks. Opener "Snow" has no drums at all; it's all sculpted guitar feedback and bass-based motorik pulse, and it calls up memories of Spacemen 3's Playing With Fire or Panda Bear. Female voices repeat a couple of phrases over and over: "Your love keeps lifting me," "lifting me higher." Slow bursts of fuzz build and build, and then we're suddenly at track two. "Escape Velocity" is a marathon blissout, with vintage synths piling on top of each other, as well as what might be a chopped up sample of the Who's "Baba O'Riley" synth arpeggios. The Chems pack a ton of peaks and valleys into the track's 12 minutes, and the end result is a great piece of giddy zone-out music, something that will probably kill when the Chems take it to the festival circuit this summer.
Nothing else on the album reaches the starry-eyed heights of those first two songs, but the vibe remains intact throughout. "Another World" has a soul-sample lope; it could be dusty backpacker hip-hop before the raved-out synths kick in. "Wonders of the Deep" lives up to its title with a burbling, impressionist keyboard lifted straight from an 80s PBS nature documentary. "Horse Power", the hardest thing here, is sort of a low-key big beat take on clipped, staccato Detroit techno, with a vocoder refrain and a horse-whinny sample that made my wife bust up laughing out loud. The whole album works something like an expansion on the last three fuzzed-out tracks from Dig Your Own Hole. The Chems aren't in the same do-no-wrong zone they were when they recorded that stuff, but Further brings them closer than anyone could've reasonably expected. That late-career slump? It's over now.
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