on June 24, 2010
Other reviewers will weigh in on the album. It's like Lemon Jelly on (more?) LSD. I want to focus on the DVD. The visuals are interesting, and the "making of" was great to watch. The problem is with the sound encoding. Despite dolby digital 5.1 and dts audio being printed on the packaging materials, the DVD only contains one audio track, stereo. Not a huge problem, but I wouldn't have purchased the DVD if I had known that. iTunes has the same stuff in the "Further" pass, which I bought first. I ordered the physical product for 5.1/dts on the DVD.
on June 28, 2010
My relationship with The Chemical Brothers has been one comparable only with my favorite soccer team: happy when they win, sore when they lose, and utterly frustrated when the moves are so obviously wrong that I swore to give it up altogether several times. Their previous two records have been a collection of big names and non cohesive songs that did not flow naturally and were rather chopped, almost forced to sound good to entice buyers instead of stimulating followers. Further shatters the curse and by taking a step back the Bros. move forward, ahead of the stagnant phase they seemed unable to surpass.
The first thing that one notices is the minimal use of voice and vocal samples. The few times Tom Rowlands or singer Stephanie Dosen participate is to enhance rather than lead, which helps to structuring sequence and avoid disrupting the mood of the record.
Escape velocity, the first taste we heard of Further, is over ten minutes long, pays homage to The Who with synthesizers that give cue to an ecstatic celebration impossible to miss and not once resorts to supporting vocals to soar. That they managed to pull off such a welcome flashback to their glory days is a remarkable fact.
Horse power is probably the track that most captures the spirit of their music: built on two simple words it gallops its way to an explosive chorus that would make any club goer cream with pleasure. Fist single Swoon capitalizes on the memento and pushes the record to a mellower conclusion. By the time the last notes of Wonders of the deep vanish one is left with the impression that we have just experienced one of their live shows, such is the force of their sound and the immersive flow they deliver.
The digital release offers two more tracks, Don't think and Porquoui, and the CD/DVD pack shows their first proper partnership with long time visual collaborators Adam Smith and Marcus Lyall, who created a short film for each one of the eight tracks.
Further is a well-rounded electronica record. It belongs in the dance floor and not in the playlist of some pop station. The Chemical Brothers maturity does not sound dated; it is renewed, energetic. By shedding off the entrapment of an aged formula they have succeeded in creating their best album of this decade.
For album number seven, UK Electronic/Dance duo The Chemical Brothers (Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands) do away with guest vocalists and decide to go it alone. "Further" features just Tom Rowlands on whatever scant vocals there are, and Stephanie Dosen who appears on "Snow" singing the repetitive mantra "Your love keeps lifting me higher" against an insistent whine.
Comprising just eight tracks, the album is sequenced like a live throbbing experience. "Escape velocity" is a euphoric piece that builds and builds to a dizzying climax with synths tripping all over the place, followed by the dreamy "Another world" with melancholic falsetto vocals.
"Dissolve" is psychedelic Pop with a groovy feel, while the aggressive "Horse power" makes clever use of horse neighs with galloping beats and the title repeated in a vocodered voice as though in a trance. "Swoon" features bursts of noise like shards of glass flying about and forming a pretty picture sounding like My Bloody Valentine set to an electro beat, "K+D+B" features feathery vocals and electric sitar/bagpipe sounds, while the Coldplay-style Rocker "Wonders of the deep" shimmers and bubbles much like the Aurora Borealis.
I'd be surprised if there are any hit singles as the whole album really needs to be heard together. A beautiful wall of electronic melody.
on September 19, 2010
I've been following the Chemical Brothers since "Exit Planet Dust", and unfortunately this is the most uninteresting of all of their releases. The quality of music is not bad, but it just hangs around with no real climax. There are certain times where it builds and builds and I'm like ok, here's where it's going to bust into a psychedelic beat fest, but it doesn't. It just collapses back down to the same monotonous drone. "Horse Power" is the only exception to this formula because there is a distinctive energetic beat that grabs your attention and pushes you into a euphoric trance. I just wish the CD as a whole held my interest as much as this track does. The next time I play "Further" it will be used as the background for my activity rather than the forefront.
on January 14, 2011
This is the flipside to my recent harsh review of We Are the Night, their previous album-
After giving up on the Brothers several years ago (after Push the Button,) this week something made me want to check out what they'd done since then so I picked up the last two albums. Their previous album We Are the Night reminded me of why I had stopped listening; it was devoid of the things I loved about the first three albums: a bigger than life sound and catchy techno hooks. It cemented my feeling that they had simply run out of juice, as virtually all bands do at some point. But then I moved on to their latest album Further, and I am forced to admit I was wrong. This is one hell of a comeback, though it's not exactly a return to the old days. There aren't many (any?) intense breakbeats to be found, but rather this is filled with what I always thought was their true forte: bright and colorful sugar-pop techno soundscapes that bring to mind visions of sunshine in a blue sky as you soar in an amphibicopter over a futuristic utopian metropolis, with your robot girlfriend riding shotgun. Dissolve is the standout track for me. I'm really glad I decided to give them a second chance. I might even like this better than the early stuff.
on July 5, 2010
In my opinion this is their best record since "Dig Your Own Hole", and yes that does mean I hink this is better than "Surrender." This decade the Chems have released the prety great "Come With Us" album, the good "Push the Buttons", and the sub-par "We Are the Night", but this album is a return to the highs they showed in their late 90s heyday. Tracks Escape Velocity and Swoon are epic, beautiful psychadelic explosions for your brain, and all of these tracks have an epic intensity that makes this in my opinion their second best album. Brilliant!
on March 5, 2012
The Chemical Brothers can walk that line of hard, and soft. Melodic, and abstract. Loud, and quiet. Just when you think a song is about to tip one way too far, in comes a verse to pull you back in the opposite direction. That pulling back and forth creates a rhythmic undertone. One that is created alongside the actual song. You find yourself getting pulled in, and it feels like youth. It makes you want to drive faster, dance harder, and live longer. If you are not moving to this album, check your pulse.
Cornerstone of what we see today in all the festivities where among the smoke and laser lights you find "people who listen to urban music" was set by Kraftwerk in the ancient '70s with their release of "The Man Machine", the first album in the world that has been recorded exclusively with electronic instruments.
Representatives of such clean electronics have long been The Chemical Brothers, in fact their career started right on time, just when the world was a bit bored with Manchester and its scene. The first album released 1995, titled "Exit Planet Dust" which was adorned with the fatal big-beat ambience is something, with the addition of more-or-less synthesizer, which is practically the same on each of their next release.
Of course, some of their singles were very successful and had something that makes you listen to it at least 3-4 times while driving a hundred on the highway and wind is coming through your hair, sometimes it was something like Goran Bregovic copying using folk tunes as in their biggest hit "Galvanize". However, from the one album to the next, the thing we asked ourselves was 'so how long all over the same thing?'
Their new album, aptly named "Further", is actually not only the album but also the soundtrack to the film clips, recorded specifically for this album that were released on DVD release. The first sign that this is indeed a step further is the album cover which is a bit unorthodox for this type of performer, and only when you open the booklet that comes with the CD you realize that this is really a whole new view of the world than those "gangsta' talks" several years ago confirmed by the titles of songs as well.
Initial "Snow" which in itself retains neither too loud beats nor pumped synthesizer, although hides simple vocalization and text ('' Your love keeps lifting me / lifting me higher''). This song would be an amazing step in anyone's career because it really can be called ambient music that belong somewhere on Brian Eno's "Another Green World" and the concept of the album after the song terribly reminiscent of King Crimson excellent album "The Power To Believe ". It would be great to see that this song released as singles, although I understand that, unfortunately, is not the most representative song album.
Following are 3 tracks that are returning listener back again to the stage of pre-listening album, since they are made exactly according to the template on which the brothers worked for the last 15 years, though, I must admit that somehow time flew quite fast and it wasn't too disappointing.
The worst minutes of this release are on track "Horse Power", which is textually very boring and exhausting because of constant repetition of the title that this album takes a step further to step back, and it looks like you wait for the moment when you can once again hear the first song. The second single from this album is the song "Swoon" that music somehow reminiscent of Pink Floyd "Marooned", but it is quite a super balanced and yet somehow you again want to listen to this album.
The last two songs are "K + D + B" and "Wonders of the Deep," which again are very boring and tedious, except that the latter eventually gets quite an interesting twist that, too late, the album returns to the game.
As final verdict, this is one average issue, although initially there were hopes that this would be a big step forward, I have to admit that this is unfortunately only a small step forward. I hope for a further, big one...
on August 27, 2010
I just need to say that not since Dig Your Own Hole have I listened to a Chemical Brothers album and not had mixed feelings about it. Maybe that's a confusing statement. I mean, that if I was to rank Chemical Brothers albums, I would probably tie Exit Planet Dust & Dig Your Own Hole (1st and 2nd places), and Further at 3rd. No mixed feelings about this album here.
There has always been some kind of goofy song or lyric that keeps me from enjoying their whole albums. Listening to Surrender I despised hearing the lyric "Superstar DJs... Here we go!". On Come With Us, "My Elastic Eye" was like 'yeah, I guess I see what you're trying to do here, but this is too goofy'. "Denmark" was redundant. I missed Push the Button altogether (Oops). And We Are the Night's single "Do It Again" was the lowest of the low in Chemical Brothers canon. Of course these albums had lots of great moments too, but it was these lame songs that kept me from keeping the Chemical Brothers as one of my favorite groups ever.
When I heard Further though, everything came easy. These were the Brothers that had impeccable taste--that could do no wrong. I mean it isn't mindblowing music or anything, but it's fresh and fun. It's full of great beats and flashy production (albeit less funk-laden than back in the day) and that's why we look forward to a new Chemical Brothers album! I also appreciate how these new songs are more skeletal in a way; they are built on simple chords or riffs, the vocals are only like one or two lines per song. In general, there are fewer ideas going on at once yet this does not detract from how interesting the songs are.
I'd say that if you have fallen away from whatever THE BROTHERS have been doing for whatever reason, try this new one out. I'm sure they will swoon the pants right off you.
Of all the major electronic music acts that emerged in the 90's, the Chemical Brothers are a rare example of one who has been able to remain both vital and true to its roots throughout the years. Other bands have either traded in experimental electronica for a more conventional band sound (UNKLE, Primal Scream), or a more pop/dance sound (Underworld) or just given up completely.
"Further" is further evidence of the Chemical Brothers' ability to both experiment and maintain a somewhat signature sound. Over the years, they've blended their trademark liquidy psychadelia with a variety of genres (hip-hop, tribal, rock, etc.) and guest vocalists. But "Further" is perhaps their least diverse, most streamlined album ... and yet one of their most successful.
"Further" takes the viewer on a unified sonic voyage, and at times flies so high that you wonder if this is the Chems' version of a gospel album. The first track, "Snow", is less a song than a preparation for take-off, after which an androgynous voice proclaims "Your love keeps lifting me ... lifting me higher". It's clear that this song is about universal, not romantic, love, and this theme continuous throughout the album. On my favorite track, "Swoon", the simple mantra "Just remember to fall in love ... there's nothing else, there's nothing else" repeats over swirling sounds, and again it's clear that this is not a plea for the listener to crush on a person, but rather to fall in love with as much of life as you can. Toward the end of the album, a wise, yet non-human sounding, voice advices to "take care of your sisters and your brothers ... they need you."
When "Further" is over, you feel like you've been somewhere ... somewhere beautiful, strange, and inspiring.