The Chemical Brothers – Surrender (1999)

It had been two years since the previous album by The Chemical Brothers had been released. The (then) new album is a good mixture of quality tunes. Let’s dive in and have a listen.

We begin with Music:Response, a futuristic and funktastic piece which sounds expertly and wonderfully done. It has pounding beats, a robotic voice sample, funky guitar sounds and all sorts of twists and turns. Mint. It sounds surreal for sure. Tripped out to the max here.

The next cut Under The Influence of course, refers to drug use. It’s an uplifting and futuristic psychedelic piece here which is thoroughly enjoyable. “Who’s under the influence?” indeed. It concludes with subsonic bass and a statement saying: “Don’t run…” What were the duo implying?

Out Of Control is a great house music like piece featuring New Order singer Bernard Sumner and does well here to show off its musicality. It’s a great mainstream sort of piece here without being unoriginal. A good effort here. Some nice singing here and lyrics as well. “Could be that I am just losing my touch, or maybe you think my moustache is too much?” Great lyrical insight here.

Orange Wedge has some great plucked bass guitar parts and some interesting static squelches. It’s The Chemical Brothers broadening and expanding their sound. It’s perhaps not the greatest thing the duo ever did, but sounds interesting all the same. It’s trippy beyond words, however.

Probably the most depressing song Noel Gallagher ever contributed to, Let Forever Be is really depressing, but great. He comes across singing as a street preacher, before asking the quintessential question: “How does it feel like…to spend a little lifetime sitting in the gutter?” Sad yet this is a great song all the same. A great collaboration is here. It sounds like Joy Division in the 21st century, but with Noel Gallagher singing. A great piece. At the end it crashes into the abyss.

The following tune The Sunshine Underground is an ethereal piece that sounds psychedelic and great here as well. The slowed down drumbeat and chanted vocals here do well. It’s a Neo hippy delight. African drums are here to spice things up too. It then warps into a beatastic piece with wind chimes which sounds fantastic. This is a mega trip. A great effort here by The Chemical Brothers. At the end, we have some sunrays of colourful music come through here.

Asleep From Day is the next piece, with some beautiful vocals and intertwining textures that just kick ass. This is a good chillout sort of piece that works well. It has some interesting instrumentation in it and just sounds good. A nice tune. A computerised xylophone finishes this off.

Got Glint? is a psychedelic instrumental piece that seems a little lacklustre. But even so, it shines brightly this album overall, so that even a piece like this is quite good listening. It mixes some robotic statements with trippy sounds, a nice mix here of unusual sounds. The end is very quiet indeed.

The big hit from the album Hey Boy Hey Girl is a house based pounding beatastic number. It is interesting and radio ready, simply a good tune. Some surreal sounds are here, a must listen. The outro is tripped out.

Here we have the title track Surrender. This piece starts slow, then builds up into a colourful concoction of sounds. It seems a little repetitive, but sounds not out of place in a city like Tokyo. It’s really that well advanced here, and a good but not great listen.

Dream On is the last piece on the album. It doesn’t sound at all in its place here, and could have been rethought here. Sounds more like a rock band than The Chemical Brothers really. It’s not all that bad though. A twist at the end occurs which is surprising though.

This album is a good listen to after a heavy night out in the club. It’s perhaps not the best EDM album you’ll ever hear, but is a worthy addition to your collection. A 20th anniversary re-release is available for those who would like to seek out some extra tunes from the era.

Good album overall.

7/10

Paul Van Dyk – Volume – The Best Of Paul Van Dyk (2009)

Trance music has never been predictable. Indeed, it is a crescendo of highs and lows in the electronic music world. Well known German DJ Paul Van Dyk put together this mix for us, a greatest hits mix showing off his music so far.

It’s a good minimalistic Trance Music sort of listening, and actually for this genre, is more quality than quantity. It’s a great way to hear some fresh tunes, so let’s jump in.

We begin with For An Angel (PvD Remix ’09) which sounds minimal and melodic for a piece of trance music. It’s a nice introduction with rapid-fire melodies and pounding beats. It’s very simple but well done.

The next piece is Home feat. Johnny McDaid (PvD Club Mix) which is a nice trippy sort of piece. It’s all similar-sounding, but mixed and done so well that it is forgivable. A nice vocal piece is here, worth hearing.

Let Go feat. Rea Garvey (VANDIT Club Mix by PvD) is more techno-based and has some unusual sounds in it. This mix flows so well, that one will be impressed by it. It’s a memorable and catchy piece. In fact, all these tunes are. The change in this tune is awesome.

White Lies feat. Jessica Sutta (Album Mix) is an acid-based experience with intertwined melodies and some great singing from our guest. It’s a nice tune to hear with a few twists and interesting sounds to boot in it.

The minimalist Nothing But You feat. Hemstock & Jennings (Original) is a truly great piece. It is a club classic, with soul searching chanting in it. You must hear this one, it’s an awesome piece with wonderful sounds in it. This album is very, very good so far, and does not fail to impress.

After that, we have Another Way (PvD Club Mix) which has banging beats and acid sounds, once again. It seems that our main man, Paul Van Dyk, uses very similar sounds. But they never disappoint, and this track is proof of it.

Forbidden Fruit (Original) is an interesting trip. Although this album does not promote drug use, it is an almost drug-like experience. A nice chilled, trippy listen.

Together We Will Conquer (Short Version) has some really interesting cut-up drum beats and some nice vocals from a guest. It’s neither overly long nor boring this album, it is purely impressive. A great listen. It sounds totally reassuring.

The next cut, New York City featuring Starkillers & Austin Leeds feat. Ashley Tomberlin (Album Mix) has a guest singer here lyrically evoking about New York City on a clubbing night. It’s a nice touch, with some imaginative thinking about it. It’s a long piece for this recording.

The bass piano-like sound that drives A Magical Moment (Original) leads into an eerie and melodic piece. Not a single track on this album mixed sounds bad or out of place. Now, that’s great modern music! It is a short 4-minute piece but sounds like great clubbing music to chill to.

Words (For Love) sounds very much like a mixture of acid noises, techno, and trance. It is so futuristic that it sounds years ahead of the R & B on the radio today. It really is great. Some great drum rolls are here too.

Tell me Why (The Riddle) feat St. Etienne (PvD Club Mix) is a nice sounding piece featuring St. Etienne with some cut-up vocal phrases from our guest. It’s a good driven piece with a multitude of well-mixed sounds.

Next up is The Other Side feat. Wayne Jackson (Original) sounds musically intense. It’s a neo-Underworld style piece that sounds really good, and tasty. It’s a pacy piece as well. Good listening, with a processed acoustic guitar in it as well. It’s 8 minutes long but doesn’t feel like it is as such.

Following up is the blistering We Are Alive feat. Jennifer Brown (Original) which has a great repeating vocal melody and bombastic drums to boot. It breaks down into a melodic and computerised tune that is very danceable.

Time Of Our Lives feat. Vega 4 (US Radio Edit) is a nice little number reflective on said time of our lives. Melody and rhythm intertwine in such a wonderfully musical way. It’s a great listen for said reflection.

Wir Send Wir & Heppner (Radio Version) is a nice way to finish the album here. It’s a German song but done so well that it could have been English in its emotion. We finish the album off very well.

If you ever need a good listen to one of the greatest introductions to trance music, or just a great mix full of great tunes, start here. You will not be disappointed. The future is here.

9/10

Layo & Bushwacka! – Night Works (2002)

In the 21st century, musically we have never had it so good. Breakbeat in this century is vibrant and interesting.  Many genres of music go well with a breakbeat style rhythm. The British duo known as Layo & Bushwacka! delivered this album, a great listen in breakbeat from start to finish.

Let’s dive in.

Vinyl begins with some rather unusual sounds, sounding rather dark and foreboding. It’s a short introduction to the record, and a good one too.

Ladies And Gentlemen is next, which is also quite short. It has some interesting sounds in it, and a spoken word part. It’s a good way to kick-start the whole recording, and we enter into this listen with style.

Then we have the brilliantly good Shining Through. This piece has bongos galore, a great breakbeat rhythm and some Asian style sounds. It’s a fantastic track, and received much airplay in the EDM scene at the time. It is really that good, worth listening. You can dance to this piece as well, if you wish to. It’s a classic piece.

A very short piece with a middle eastern melody, Sahara, is next. It’s tripped out, and is proof of the mixing abilities of the duo.

We Meet At Last comes next. It has some dark sounds to boot and takes a while to really kick off. It’s not as good as the previous tracks, some of the sounds here are poor choice in the mix. But still, it’s a good effort from Layo & Bushwacka!

Mainlining follows and has a semi psychedelic feel to it. It has some plucked guitar parts, before seguing into the next piece.

The piece that comes next is Let The Good Times Roll. It has some African like melodic singing in it, possibly blues influenced, before hitting us with some good beats to spare. It’s an unusual piece, but given breakbeat’s huge ability to cross into almost any genre, is very good to hear. It’s rather melancholic in its melodies too.

The next arrival is All Night Long, sounding very quiet at the beginning. It flows into pseudo techno beats, and is a good piece to hear. It has some catchy vocal melodies in it as well, reminiscent of Scatman. This is a standout effort on the album, it should be listened to.

Strike is a seven second warping transition into the next piece. Nothing much to say about it given its length.

Sleepy Language arrives next, and boy! It is an awesome 21st century piece. It’s a good listen for when the mood strikes, featuring a great range of samples and ingenious production by the duo. Great work here. Perfect for late night listening.

The following piece, Blind Tiger, is a laidback piece sampling a blues singer and is just chilled as a listen. Good use of delay based sound effects are here. A chugging piano and great saxophone is in the middle here, followed up with a descending bass line. It’s an interesting listen for sure.

The interlinking piece Automatic sounds very machine like. It has some psychedelic sounds which are interesting, before launching into the next piece.

Love Story is a quiet but melodic piece indicating the emotion at hand. It has techno beats in it as well. It’s a good instrumental that is reminiscent of Underworld. Not bad at all. It has an odd midsection to it, before bouncing back to the beats.

2mrw starts off with digitally enhanced beats and sounds IDM like. It jumps into a computerised and futuristic style of song that is fresh and interesting.

The remix entitled Love Story (vs. Finally) (Bushwacka! bootleg version) is very simple and catchy. It’s a good bonus addition, and a subtle, funky listen. The vocal piece in the centre is brilliant.

Following is It’s Up To You (Shining Through) (Radio Mix) which is a great remix of Shining Through with great vocals added. It’s good to hear such variety here, and goes well on this place of the album.

Let The Good Times Roll (Reworked) is another short remix, but a very good one, bringing in more catchy elements to the music at hand. It’s punchy and danceable. Very good effort.

Where Did We Go Wrong? seems to sound just awful. Good thing it is at the end of the album and that most of the rest of the album is listenable. Let’s pretend that this cut did not exist for the most part, it’s ordinary. Even the vocals on this are bad per se. And once this awful track is over, we conclude our journey.

This album is a decent listen overall. For those who love atmospheric sounds and mixed in with breakbeats, be sure to check out this album. You may enjoy it immensly.

7/10

DJ Icey – DJ Icey Presents Y4K (2006)

DJs are not to be underestimated in the 21st century. Their ability to hone a decent mix and utilize their own craft is something special, and something that has not been done so before much in the history of music.

This mix is a good one. It’s filled with awesome tracks to sink your teeth into. If you love the sound of breakbeats, or just new something cool for a change, no doubt here is a good place to begin,

We begin with Merka’s I’ll Be Here. It’s a simple and minimalist track which leads into the mix in general. It’s nothing special, but a good start to the mix.

Following up is a rather deep and meaningful track. IIs’s Loving You (Atomic Hooligan Remix) is a good example of vocals, breaks, and beats mixed together into a good piece. It’s sonically reassuring, given the piece itself. Worth listening to.

Plodout by Vlad follows, and it’s just that, but never gets dull to listen to. It combines some beats and some basic electronic sounds to boot. It’s a good one.

Feelin’ Kinda Strange (Bass Kleph & Nick Thayer Remix) by the Drummatic Twins arrives, and this mix really kicks off. It’s so catchy you’ll be dancing for days to it. It has a bunch of killer sounds and samples, with a climax that is euphoric. Killer.

After that, we have This Feelin’ (Boy 8-bits Grindhouse Mix) by AB/DC and it has some warm sounds throughout. It’s an okay track but serves as an anticlimax after the previous tracks, which is a little disappointing.

The next track is a highlight. Like This (Main Mix) by Artcrime samples John Lennon screaming and has a bunch of interesting sounds, samples, and breakdowns to keep one interesting whilst listening. It’s awesome.

Never Gonna Stop The Show by General Midi is a good rap/breaks piece. It is direct and to the point, and just fits in well with the rest of the mix here. It’s good to hear some decent rap for a change.

Come Closer by DJ Icey himself is theatrical, and brilliant. It samples a lady asking for some, and has some great acid like sounds in it. It’s a great touch to the mix.

The following piece, The Ride by Move Ya! and Steve Lavers is a futuristic romp through music. It’s awesome no doubt, but also by this point in the mix, we can recognise the greatness of the overall mix. Just fantastic.

The next one is acid galore. Everybody Get Up (Circuit Breaker Remix) by Transformer Man has a bunch of great rhythms to boot as well. It fits into the mix nicely.

San Pedro by DJ Icey is a much more chillax sort of vibe by DJ Icey himself. It settles down the party like atmosphere after the previous few tracks. DJ Icey is an accomplished musician, by all means.

All Your Love (Deekline & Wizard Club Mix) by Deekline is a strange one, with pounding beats and cut up vocals that make no sense whatsoever. It fits the bill nicely, however.

If there is one track to dislike on this mix, it is likely this one. Grizzle (Vlad & Ardisson Remix) by Smithmonger & Kobi is dull and drags on quite a bit. Still, it has its place here on the mix.

We end the DJ mix with DJ Icey’s Nikita. It’s okay but sounds as though the mix is a little burned out at this point. We conclude it after 5 minutes of solid listening.

For anybody who is a fan of EDM or similar types of electronic music, this compilation is worth tracking down. It is much better than you’d expect from a Breakbeat artist, and it is a good solid hour or so of listening. If you love breaks and beats, look no further. DJ Icey does very well here.

9/10