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First Impressions

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Listened for the first time.

This is a sacred experience, of course. After some small amount of indecision about how to do so, I finally settled on a quiet hour to open the windows of my room and lie back on a futon with the music right in my ears. This was the right way.

Hands down. This is their most cohesive album yet. Tracks 1-9, at least. It's phenomenally sequenced, in key, in mood, in energy. Tracks 1-6 form a perfectly packaged two-sided experience that begins and ends on an acapella loop. A sequence that could end perfectly there, happily as an EP, if not for The Universe Sent Me transitioning PERFECTLY into We've Got To Try - which delivers you upon a 1-2-3 punch of increasingly demented bangers. This album is un-Chemical too, it treads new ground, but in a way Born in the Echoes didn't, it's a natural extension of the mad space wizard's explorations into unexplored quadrants. It's like hearing them "cover" one of their DJ sets - there's a reliance on samples here different than anything they've done before.

Even more than Further, I want to hear this live in full in sequence. Deadly serious. I'm scared shitless too many songs get left off this album in favor of classics this 2019 tour. I need to hear so much of this.

Eve of Destruction > Bango is an inseparable sequence better than any two songs they've mixed together in the past. Eve of Destruction leads you on a disco Tokyo journey under neon lights, electrical wires crisscrossing an alleyway, taxi-dodging from disco to disco to strobe to strobe to DJ to DJ, electro drum beat patterns smacking through the mix like their old DJ cutups. There's a vocal there, a local guide, to guide you by hand through every inverting dizzying passage. Bango takes this vibe and jams upon, like you've finally found the club you want to spend the night and immediately get into a fight with every nasty fucker in it - and every punch you launch is landing. The club watches in rapt awe as you vanquish evil throwing shapes in your shades and leather jacket. Aurora's vocals lend a top-of-the-mountain spirituality to the engagements, to you, cool king of the dancefloor, holding court.

Every 16 bar passage raises the energy, culminating not in something that ups the energy, but ups the euphoria into the LSD 80s dream crash that is No Geography - it's no disappointment, it's the celebration of your mad experiences, a reward for braving the unknown. It calls to mind Thieves Like Us, and the percussive smashing of all those drum machine heavy 12" Extended Mixes put out, prismed through Tom and Ed's musical light filter. Want something harder? You'll get it later...

I'd love to hear it continue after the last build, but liquid disco Got To Keep On takes its place, its alien choirs in group jams on the dancefloor, ringing out ritual celebrations. It evokes daily life lifted by previous wonderful experiences, working towards the next. John Peel described "Teenage Kicks" as perfect, and elaborated "There's nothing you could add to it or subtract from it that would improve it." There's a glorious minimalism to Got To Keep On that makes me think of this. Every single thing in this song is in its right place, its minimalism is macro-exact and lush. I still can't get over the melodies that soar over the stripped down crowd breakdown.

Gravity Drops, black holes in a warehouse, takes serves the same sort of purpose as Orange Wedge or Lost in the K-Hole, and is probably the most "b-sidey" of all the tracks here, but has every place on this album in the role of the "lowkey" bridge, the nothing-quite-like-it middle track that excited bizarre sounds in your mind. The synth lines and drum patterns are delightfully naive, they sound like something I could write - then are upended by the mid-song snare roll into the bizarre, inverted, upside-down tonenoise beat shuffle breakdown. The outro evokes their old school sample manipulations, especially the Everything Must Go remix intro. It's an aptly titled vital song. one that breaks the train tracks and redefines the mood properly to set up...

The Universe Sent Me, tear wrenching. It evokes something of the mood of Wide Open and sets it on fire, slow motion red energy dancing in void, scorches it, tossed in ballistic light. It's the sound of going one step beyond, losing your mind in painful ecstacy, pulling something too powerful inside, feeling it take over you, and needing to let it out and run, beams shooting from the fingertips, bellowing. It hurts and it's gorgeous, it's catharsis.

"I cave in", like I just said, could book end a theoretical EP if it didn't lead into We've Got To Try so majestically, which sets up a final trilogy of songs. We've Got To Try is silly and still there's nothing like it - I fear seeing the music video has ruined this song for me, but it's still magic on its own somehow, crunk and funky and soulful. I love the way the vocal line is reinterpreted each time with new harmonies. It's un-Chemical too - there are moments where you expect some mad modular sound in the sampled sections, but these parts simply play in all their soulful well-produced re-produced glory, with nothing but a distorted dub echo at times. It's so cool in its trade back and forth between the heart and the mechanic.

Then full mechanic in Free Yourself, a song elevated by its position in the album. This one's grown on me greatly, the way each chorus builds to something different is novel, and the b-boy midsection doesn't feel as tame as it did on the first listens. It's as though, in all the wild eclecticism of Eve of Descruction and Bango which set the mood and jockeyed through so many great voices, this, We've Got To Try, and the following track narrow in on those specific mentioned vibes and deliver them to their fullest.

And MAH just takes you one more higher, madder, angier, demented, distorted, off-beat smashing level, that leaves you exhausted and wilded out knowing you've reached the peak promised from the very start. The intro comes perfectly out of Free Yourself, perfectly - and the throaty boom bass made me laugh before I even heard the laughing samples join in with me. This song is just so, fucking, Chemical Brothers. I'd only love it more if they'd held no punches back and put the whole EBW monty on the album - but then the intro out of Free Yourself would be sacrificed, and maybe a few listeners would be lost in the process, carried away by the masked mad shirtless man who just won't take it anymore. No, the problem is I need that section that drops at 2:05 in my life AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. The single version ends up being different, as the album version (the version used in the BBC Radio shows) ends on a rolling slowing synth, spinning out exhausted into the album's conclusion.

Sometimes hearing music is like seeing something through a cloud of black smoke. You aren't sure what the song truly is yet as it's bigger than you can comprehend and still too far away to touch. Catch Me I'm Falling, is like this. It's not an easy ender and it's not what was expected. The outro synth is so surprisingly gorgeous. But I can't say a thing about it because I don't know this song yet. It speaks a different language. Its synths cut you open, sensual and longing. Tracks 1-9 ask for an ending unlike the journey, and this delivers, but it far from feels like the safe, warm, happy comedown desired after the swirling foreign stratosphere highs just experienced. Don't think I don't like it. I just don't know it yet. And far from speculate about what could be better here (another 3 song sequence of chilled out, more earthy tracks?) - I want to sit down and understand you.

I love this work. I call it a work as I can't even compare it to any album they've released before. But it's so good. So good so good so good. So vital, instinctive, glued together. I'm a fan of its bigger picture, and maybe that's all I can say about it - as a package No Geography is a winner bigger than the sum of its parts, and opens a window into a universe you never saw coming. Like every Chems album (but BITE) has done for me before, and hallelujah for that.

I still remember the release of Further as one of the "biggest" moments of my young teenage years. I was so excited for it - and the build up for months just felt IMMENSE. It's 9 years later (what the fuck) and a great amount of work and school and projects and my radio station and future employment and being married and emails and stress and responsibilities and bills and remembering things and failing things and trudging through horrible moments in life later... this release just felt like it had no momentum. I never had the time to push a big update to the forum, singles were just "released" here and there on Spotify. The ceremony of discovery and anticipation washed away by the modern world and my growing adulthood in it.

Yet sitting back on the couch, windows open, listening to the whole thing on a good pair of headphones with no one and nothing to interrupt me, for just part of an hour... the magic came back. It never really went anywhere. It's just so good to find it again. When you're without it it feels like forever.

Here's to all the good listens to come!!

P.S. - you know how New Order had a Complete Music companion to Music Complete? With 12" extended versions of all the album tracks. Yeah. Do that. Do that for this. I want that for this. These songs come together great, but I can't help feel like they've got even more to say by themselves.
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  • Freak Of The Week
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Reading your review WN is the kind of review that I would like to echo on my review but still got a few more hours left. It was pleasant to read your descriptions and thoughts on this piece of 'work'.
 
Im planning to take the day off tomorrow and just completely get in a comfort zone like you did before my ears pry open 'Geography'!

enjoyed your revi...I mean impressions!
This is up there. Like, Star Guitar up there.


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Bought the 2LP & cd today at my beloved Shake It Records (less than 3 blocks from my home).  Have only heard MAH, Free Yourself, Got To Keep On, & We've Got To Try.  About to take for a test spin.  See you on the other side.


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We sure have some poetic minds in our midst!
You wanna know my biggest disappointment for the live sets 2019? You wanna know? I tell you what my biggest disappointment is: I AM FUCKING NOT THERE!


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I love your review, Whitenoise.

Life gets in the way sometimes. And even more so as time marches on...

Music is very grounding. It’s a bit like being in nature - unplugged from society and worries and all the ‘life getting in the way” stuff. I’m happy you had this moment, and thank you for sharing it with us.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


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side A
Eve - much different than the dj set version and added much layers.
bango - is this some 80's freetyle genre-type music. this is too much - tears i tell you
no geography - i hear roof is on fire in there

side B
GTKO - lovely as always. nuff said
gravity drops - feels odd but im imagining that this would be some lost in space music. that ending makes me feel chiper

side C 
TUSM - waiting for pulse after 2 minutes. Oh there it is! 'I cave in' needs to stop repeating.
WGTT - this song saves side C. its the 'orange wedge' of this album but more huggable.


side D
FY - as before no complaints. luv that break in the middle.
MAH - this is the track that has grown big on me.
CMIF - no comment but subtle

second listen tomorrow, really like the album....alot
This is up there. Like, Star Guitar up there.


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Wow, truly blown away by this album. So much depth and emotion to this album.

Its definitely one of the most complete albums they have ever done. Its really up there with their first 3 albums.

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I love how this album makes me feel. Lots of good, raw, angry, sad, joyous emotions throughout. Reveling in those emotions.  I know it may come across as a bit corny, but it’s true (at least for me). I love music that makes me feel good listening to it.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


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My thoughts on No Geography (not a review)

OK so don’t be mad but upon listening to the Dj tracks 2 years ago, I was worried that the brothers have gone R.A.M. and ditched the classic formula (I made a post about that but it got deleted). That was until EBW 12’s Teasers were released.

Eve of destruction was 1 of 2 tracks that made me worry, Im really glad the brothers revised this song. Although the 1st half of the song did have “R.A.M.” vibes, the 2nd half dropped a surprise break-beat segment, which I should’ve come to expect considering its tom & Ed for crying out loud. If Eve of Destruction (to simply put it) is C.H.E.M.I.C.A.L. on Meth…

… Bango is basically A.M.M.C. On Steroids, although I did theorize it being “Here come the Drums”, the song is still a fun track, plus the fact that I’m hearing synths similar to the ones that Styx & Pink Floyd use.

There’s really nothing to compare or describe about the title track No Geography. It seems several songs in this album are callbacks to previous Chem tracks and Eras, the beats give me vibes of the track Surrender, simultaneously further vibes as well, yet it still feels like a track with its own style.

Got to Keep On was the other track that made me worried, I don’t care now because the track grew on me, similarly to star guitar. I still prefer the Michelin Mummies over the white silly putty.

Spoiler
I did cheat and listen to the live version last year and I'm kinda bummed out that nothing changed between the Live and the Album version which is kinda sad when you realized we heard the whole thing already, then again, the same happened with Further with 2010. Hopefully 2019’s tour will bring more variety like dont think has with Further's tracks.
[close]

Gravity Drops (I presume Gravity Falls was taken) reminds me of salmon dance in a way. I hope in the future they do more tracks in this style. Also do you guys hear “Body Rush” or “body wash”?

Hi Kevin The Universe Sent Me is the underrated slow song in every album that’s overshadowed by all of the high tempo songs. I always have a soft spot for these tracks.

OK I reached the final 3rd segment AKA best segment of the album here we go!
We’ve Got To Try gave me The Boxer & Orange Wedge vibes, at first I thought the sample used was a Jackson 5 sample until I had a look on the booklet.

Hearing and watching the music video of Free yourself made me stop worrying about how the album might go; again I also heard the live version. This track feels like it should’ve been on BITE, but it got cut at the last second.

MAH No words, is the best track of the album, though I prefer EBW12 over the track any day, it’s still a trip to listen to any version available.

Catch me I’m falling was a good closing track, I feel it should’ve been longer (at least as long as Surface to air)

1 Dig your own Hole
2 Surrender
3 Exit Planet dust
4 We are the night
5 No Geography
6 Come with Us
7 Further
8 Push The Button
9 Born in the Echoes
« Last Edit: Jun 02, 2019, 07:55 by Conn6orsuper117 »  
"The music Gets Louder, The Lights swirl faster, the chap who freaks out hasn't passed the acid test... A surprising number of these youngsters don't even know who Timothy Leary is..."


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After several listens, it is still growing on me. It is my favorite in a long time, mainly because the album flows beautifully from one song to the other and I don't skip anything!
My ranking as of today:

Come With Us
Surrender
No Geography
Exit Planet Dust
Dig Your Own Hole
Push The Button
We Are The Night
Further
Born In The Echoes


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1 Dig your own Hole
2 Surrender
3 Exit Planet dust
4 We are the night
5 No Geography
6 Come with Us
7 Push The Button
8 Further
9 Born in the Echoes

After several listens, it is still growing on me. It is my favorite in a long time, mainly because the album flows beautifully from one song to the other and I don't skip anything!
My ranking as of today:

Come With Us
Surrender
No Geography
Exit Planet Dust
Dig Your Own Hole
Push The Button
We Are The Night
Further
Born In The Echoes

Surrender
DYOH
EPD
No Geography
Futher
BITE
CWU
WATN
PTB
This is up there. Like, Star Guitar up there.


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I find that this album, like so many in the past, leaves me stumped and hard pressed for immediate words to describe what I’m hearing and the things I see in my mind’s eye. It usually takes a while for me to compose my thoughts. I’m continuously impressed by the reviews, perspectives, and thoughts from you all so far. Keep them coming please!

But I wanted to chime in some first impressions too, and expand a small bit what I said up a few posts back. I like how the album makes me feel. This has been my initial thoughts on first full listen, and now. Describing emotions has always presented its challenges. On a personal level life these past couple of years have been challenging, more busy than I want it to be, a bit isolating, and has had me internalizing a lot of things. I feel... really freakin good... overall when I listen to No Geography, but I get there are feelings of being present and being free in the other emotions that are on this album - anger (in MAH), a touch of sadness (in Catch Me I’m Falling), exaltation (in Free Yourself, We’ve Got To Try, Got To Keep On), feeling of community/togetherness (in No Geography). These feelings seem to ripple and percolate across the soundscapes, those peaks and valleys, that seem to be wonderfully consistent throughout all their albums. It’s always a ride with the Chems. There are a lot of beautiful moments in this album. I know there are criticisms of the album being too short, and this has been a gripe of mine in the past (looking at you, Pioneer Skies!!) :P But here with No Geography, I don’t mind the shorter duration.  With No Geography, I can take a quick trip away and gently land in a better place once the brief journey is over, and be happier. This album begs just a moment of my time and I’m glad I give it. I love it.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


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It's been years since I've had an album (by anyone) on repeat as much as this one upon its release. As soon as it is over, I'm compelled to start it again. It's consistency and concise length create a seamless experience that I keep wanting to return to several times a day. I've actively had to stop myself from overplaying it.
I'll hop on that ranking bandwagon:

1 Come With Us
2 Dig Your Own Hole
3 No Geography
4 Surrender
5 We Are The Night
6 Exit Planet Dust
7 Born In The Echoes
8 Further
9 Push The Button


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1 Surrender
2 Dig Your Own Hole
3 Come With Us
4 Exit Planet Dust
5 No Geography
6 Further
7 Push The Button
8 Born In The Echos
9 We Are The Night

There are amazing tracks on WATN but as an album it's really not great.

Also I have a feeling NG will overtake EPD soon...
« Last Edit: Apr 19, 2019, 23:32 by mfc83 »  


  • The Boxer
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So, you're saying you like it? ;-)

I loved reading that writeup just as much as you love this album. 

Can't believe Further was 9 years ago.  It changed me as a human being.  Knowing that this album can do what Further did to me after moving cross country and back, getting married, having a kid, and being a completely different person than I was in 2010 makes me smile in such a magical way. 

So gutted that I won't be seeing this tour this year. 
« Last Edit: Apr 20, 2019, 01:45 by Shotglass75 »  


 

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