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

The Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole (1997)

The Chemical Brothers are brilliant. After their first and solid album Exit Planet Dust, they sought to expand and explore their own sound further. This album has the name taken from some graffiti nearby their recording studio. It’s a good title for such an album.

The music itself is just amazing. It takes their mixture of rap, acid house, breakbeats, and general EDM spirit further than the previous offering. It sounds as though it was recorded in the 25th century, not the 20th century. And above all, it’s a classic of its type.

We hear an extended intro beginning which mixes into Block Rockin’ Beats. It’s an awesome club piece that still sounds fresh and mega today. With some expert samples in an original song, The Chemical Brothers are back and once again on top form. The bass part is very catchy.

Next up is the title track Dig Your Own Hole. It has a real bass guitar funky riff and shows off the duo’s mojo ability when it comes to making music. It has some karate like samples in the midsection and never gets boring.

Elektrobank follows and is the most catchy of all the songs on the album, which is no doubt why it is an extended piece. It samples DJ Kool Herc in the intro and poses the rap question: “Who is this doing this synthetic tape of alpha beta psychedelic funkin?” It is an underrated gem by the duo.

Piku arrives next and sounds like a true anthem for people in Japan to dance to. It’s a futuristic and psychedelic ride with a soulful sounding midsection which demands repeated listens. Just fantastic.

The hit song Setting Sun comes next featuring Noel Gallagher of Oasis on vocals. It’s a nod to Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles, in fact so much so that The Chemical Brothers were threatened with legal action from The Beatles for this recording. However, it’s an original piece. It’s very good, so much so that Noel himself regularly covered this song on the Oasis tours of the time acoustically. It’s so psychedelic and colourful this song that it’s a fantastic listen. Just don’t forget your 3D glasses as well.

The overlong It Doesn’t Matter follows and it’s really repetitive, but sits nicely in the album regardless. It’s designed for crazy dancing, not necessarily intellectual listening. Perhaps a rethink on this particular track would have worked.

Don’t Stop The Rock is a DJ sort of mix piece. It segues into the pieces before and after it. It’s okay, but not tremendously good.

Get Up On It Like This has some rather trippy and humourous samples throughout. It sounds rather weird but flows well all the same.

The following tune is Lost In The K-Hole which is a direct reference to Ketamine, a psychedelic drug used in EDM culture. It’s really superb and features some brilliant bass, cut-up vocal samples and a chilled sort of vibe. A great piece on the album.

The next song is rather nice to listen to. Beth Orten sings Where Do I Begin, a semi-acoustic and interesting piece in itself. It talks about the aftermath of a crazy night out and builds up and breaks into some banging beats. An excellent song.

The Private Psychedelic Reel is absolutely fantastic, and that’s an understatement. It blows away any crappy punk wannabe bands of the time and goes on for nine minutes. It’s never boring though, with a Sitar riff, soul touching sound effects and banging drum loops. It falls apart at the end once the track finishes, and the album concludes there.

The Chemical Brothers really excel here. This is their defining and best album. They blow away many of their competitors here with their sound, which is psychedelic, electronic and futuristic. If you like the sound of a very unique but fantastic and popular EDM album, be sure to check this album out. It’s not trashy like most EDM. Instead, it is a great fusion of EDM and art.

8/10