CD Reviews > The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers - Born in the Echoes
Astralweks

I give this release one of the highest rating I've ever given, 4.8 out of 5 stars!!!

This release has me very happy to be involved in reviewing new music. Born in the Echoes is divided into 2 disks of music, for a total of 15 tracks. The second disk feels a bit more daring/experimental, so if you’re afraid the Brothers may be repeating themselves, I must admit they've covered some familiar territory; however, they do so in a self-aware sort of fashion. It can be tricky to be both an innovator and an established act with a critical fan-base waiting to dissect a “later-in-career” release (look at everyone from U2 to Skinny Puppy for examples of falling into and out of that trap), but I'm happy to announce this is Chemical Brothers through and through; and at their best delivering solid tracks to me and you!

Let’s go through some of the tracks:

DISK ONE

Track 1: “Sometimes I feel So Deserted”. Coming straight out the gate with high-energy-meets-uptown-funk at a rave groove, we may sometimes feel deserted, but the beat drops just in time to bring us together on dance floors across the world. If I were DJing, this track would open many a set!

Track 2: “Go”, being the track elected as the “first single”, this is what radio and club DJs are probably spinning. “We just want to make you, we just want to make you... GO!!” – Again, playing with song-structure/sample/loop/repeat and an uptown funk attitude in rhythm and lyrics! I guess the Brothers were feeling frisky, as these lyrics can be interpreted as “explicit”. I'm down! Many of us who grew out of adolescence with The Brothers would like to feel sexy again! “No time to rest, just do your best..." OK guys, I will, you certainly make me want to GO!

Track 3: “Under Neon Lights”. Critics may find this song much like past ones, but how many years (or decades for that matter) are you really expected to be innovative? Actually, this is another great new track, both fresh and retrospectively classic. This track mixes well with the classic dance floor grooves like Donna Summers and many others.

Track 4: “EML Ritual”. Moving further down the road of the innovative, this is a bridge song to the second half of the album. “Don't know what to do, I'm going to lose my mind”. Much like “Out of control”, this song would make me lose my mind… on the dancefloor!

Track 5: “I’ll See You There”. Using a similar device as “Let Forever Be” (live drumming w/ the electronic format, and a live bass-style base-line), let this song be its own, though. It's got a groove unlike the rest of this album.

At this point, I feel I must remind you that I listen to music on a 1,000 watt 5.1 surround system as loud as my neighbors will tolerate... Most music really comes alive on systems like this. Only once in a great while do I listen via headphones (and usually high-end earbuds). I'm an optimist, and review everything through rose-colored specs; and if I don't like it, I don't review it!

Track 6: “Just Bang”. Here's a fun, live rhythmic sampled track reminiscent of 2002's “Galaxy bounce”, again showing that experimental tracks are on the later part of this album. I don't foresee this being a 'single' or heavily rotated track, but it makes this collection more of a cohesive album than just the expected tracks would. Again, heavy use of live drum samples.

Track 7: “Reflection”. Although very progressive, this track may become a “single” release. The extended version on the second disk, if anything, is a giveaway/spoiler to that effect. Progressive, almost to the point of being too experimental for “single” consideration; but the Chemical Brothers (much like others on Astralwerks distribution) are not just about what's status quo or colored within the lines; and so this track will get dance floor rotation! Man, I need to get out there and DJ again... this release, especially, has me inspired. Total running time of both disks is just shy of an hour and a half!

Track 8. “Taste of Honey”. This concept song explores the ideas of honey: from the honeys on the floor you want to impress; to the sticky, dripping honey that a bee makes. Kicked back with a sonic groove, “If you don't have no money, you can't get no honey”. Not a single-worthy track, but well placed in the collection.

Track 9: “Born In The Echoes”. When an album has an interesting title, it's always good to get to the title track that brings the concept to light. “In the night I could see, rings of sound follow me”; “I was caught in between, I was born in the Echoes”. To sum this release up in a word, I use the rather British term, “BRILLIANT!”

Track 10. “Radiate”. WOW! A simple word, radiate, becomes quite the conceptualized song, and another shade of brilliant at the albums’ finishing flourishes. “Just Radiate!” This might be found amongst morning sets at weekend lounge-electronica events.

Track 11. “Wide Open”. Another great “morning set” track. Bouncy, optimistic, and a great way to leave a set of tracks. What a great feeling, even after three decades of work… to be continued with Disk Two!

DISK TWO

I actually put this on rotation prior to the main disk. This disk is a little over a half-hour; while the first eleven tracks clock in at just over an hour. The entire release runs an hour and a half – which is well worth the $8-$9 to download from Amazon.com and delivered in minutes. Listen loudly, or at the very least with a system that has good bass or use high quality headphones.

Track 1: “Let’s Build a City” (Bonus Track). I love bonus tracks, they feel like you are being let in on a secret; and this is an excellent kick off to the second disk. In keeping with the overall style, recognizable as Chemical Brothers, yet distinctly its own sound. Lots of use of the center channel, which I appreciate. I like music that orbs you; or makes you feel as if something is over your shoulder. Mostly instrumental, this track still tells a story. Fun track!

Track 2: “Wo Ha” (Bonus Track). More like “Whoaaaah!” Vocalizations are a bit moaning, perhaps reminiscent of the sexual overtones of “Go”. This track is fun to listen to, but probably won’t be a “single”.

Track 3: “Go” (Extended Mix – Explicit). Here we “GO” again! The more advant garde will probably use this in a set instead of the album version. In essence it’s not missing anything, just some longer intro/outro vibrations. I hope to use this when I return to radio or live DJ sets. “Everybody goin’ out of their mind, everybody jumpin’ out of their skin”. “G-O”!

Track 4: “Reflextion” (Extended Mix). One of my favorite tracks from the main set, well subjected into an underground worthy version. This will also make you want to go out dancing.

I hope that MusicArtery readers will enjoy this disk as much as I have!

~Alexavier S. Strangerz