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whirlygirl's big a**...

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...review, ramblings, and musings of Born In The Echoes.

I think I've started out my reviews in the past by saying I'm still a bit lost for words, or that I'm still trying to wrap my head around what I'm hearing, and blah blah blah. So nothing's really changed in that aspect (no surprise there!) otherwise this would have been posted a lot sooner. As always with the Chemical Brothers, every listen - especially while the novelty is still fresh - reveals something new that I didn't catch initially or after the first few listens. These subtleties built atop soundscapes are things I completely lose myself in, and are what endears me so much to what the brothers do.

The album begins with this familiar silvery thread of sound that gently falls into plush, sonic layer. Just beneath the bubbly surface there's signal building, getting louder. A bright voice, one that I can hear coming from a place of understanding, says to hold on. We've all been holding on for a few years now waiting breathlessly for a new album to drop! Even though we've been spoiled with projects in between; Remixes here and there, a couple of solo efforts and production projects, a brilliant soundtrack for a film that went as quickly as it came to theaters, and lastly a feature length concert film that had audiences on their feet and in some cases, shutting down cinemas until everyone got back into their seats. ;) Yes, this intro is perfect. This album opener feels like something we've already acquainted ourselves with, but in context of I Think I Feel So Deserted (and along with the old skool vocal sample that calls back to those shining early rave days of yesteryear) it all feels a bit like driving a classic car down an old highway into a new place I've never visited before.


Go blazes the trail of familiarity into a modern day Galvanize. In comparison though, it's layers are peeled back revealing a fresher, less-is-more track with smoother lyrics that float in unison to everything else going on rather than noisily compete with all the other parts of the track's constructs. This is the fun "get the party started" song that keeps the momentum of the first track going. I feel safe here. The chorus is chirpy and upbeat and the build is subtle, saving the best part - the all too short peak - for last as it doesn't appear until near the end of the song.   

Moving a little bit into left field is Under Neon Lights which starts with an applause, a flickering coil of bleeps, kaleidoscopic vocals, and a siren-like howl that can be heard in the distance. Though St Vincent's voice does teeter on the edge of uncertainty, it's the way in which it delicately cuts into the dark fabric and wild percussion that prevent this song from venturing too far into sinister, nightmarish territory. I find it curious this song ends with a question, and in context with the arresting use of the word "suicide", it's quite haunting. I'm not sure what this song means, or if it even matters. And that's OK because I think it's gorgeous.

EML Ritual. The trip's getting to be a bumpy ride. By this point I am deep in the album and have found myself in a place darker than the one I was in before (in Under Neon Lights). The song is driven by a beat that reminisces the pulsating gallop of Acid Children and more recently, Horse Power. Ali Love makes a welcome return in what can best be described as Do It Again's sinister twin. The vocals swirl in a confusing headspace and this song comes up hard and at times uncomfortably strong. The beauty of this track resides in the anxiety-inducing severity of tension and release. There are no gently ascending peaks and valleys here. This is more like being chased to the edge of a cliff - then to escape, mindlessly jumping off into the vast unknown only to be caught and pushed higher up again by a gurning, noisy tempest. Each time more maddening than the last. It's fucking glorious.

I'll See You There, which is an instant classic, digs right at the heart and soul of all things consciousness expanding. The journey has somewhat leveled out here, and the mind's eye is immediately transported to your own private wonderland of rich color and abstracts taking shape into something that sounds and feels organic. If I didn't think this song made me crazy - or deaf - I could swear I hear a deep drone of bagpipes distorted into warm undulating tones... bejeweled with synths that flutter like seagulls dancing across a sky at sunset. Whereas Setting Sun and Let Forever Be are mere nods to Tomorrow Never knows, I'll See You There is the standing ovation.

Just Bang is to me, one of the most bizarre tracks I've heard from the brothers. The deep thudding pierced by an acidic low squelch seems to meander in a wobbling labyrinth of bewildered thought. What I'm reminded of are the warehouse raves of yesterday that began at a map point, then ended up at some dilapidated, top-secret location that would make your mother sob if she knew where you were spending your Saturday night. These were the places that were organized overnight, erected in an afternoon, and more often than not broken down by the Fire Marshall sometime in the wee hours. And at some point of the night, when you've indulged in certain delights that would most likely send your poor mother off the ledge, you'd end up hearing something almost exactly like this.

Ahhhh Reflexion. Is this what happens after you hear Das Spiegal? ;) That click on the hard left isn't so much a bother if you're reminded of the same audible gadgetry found in Velodrome - the clicking, whirring sound of bike gears. Once my brain made this connection, I was able to put my finger on the mental place I felt this song was trying to take me. In classic Chemical fashion, the song builds and climbs to its familiar peak. Those clicks are the gears shifting as you push on. Then when you reach the top you let go, and the exhilarating descent feels like being baptized in a rush of cool wind. This is such beautiful fan service and shows the Chemical Brothers are still at the top of their game in completely transporting the listener not only to a different place, but to a different event.

Then all too soon, you find you've crashed into a beehive of discordance and, well. The plain fucking weirdness that is Taste Of Honey. The arrangement of this song is so strange that the bizarreness of Just Bang quickly becomes a distant memory. The "won't get no honey if you don't have no money" make Sammy and his salmon dance feel like completely commonplace lyrics to have in a Chemical Brothers song. If I were any more traumatized of flying insects that are of the buzzing, stinging variety, I'd have flailed about like a loon and yanked off my headphones a long time ago. One thing I will say is the genius treatment of that buzzing bee that literally feels like it's trapped in my head. Then there's the synth guitar jam breakdown which I... It's such an oddity. For me, this is easily the most challenging song of theirs to date, and after countless listens already, I'm still having a hard time trying to determine what to make of it.

The title track Born In The Echoes is a bit of an oddity. It's got solid percussion and wilting synths that sound like their almost dripping in some parts. Cate Lebon's voice is pretty raw here, which would be a surprising contrast if this song was more multi-dimensional as say, Reflexion. There's a blatant drug reference about pushing kilos that I suppose expand on and play up the desire for want excess mentioned in the buzzing bee trap that is Taste Of Honey. What's striking about this song is the mention of rings of sound "following me" - anyone that's ever caught themselves drifting in and out of sleep deprived consciousness listening to the Chemical Brothers knows exactly what that sounds and feels like.

Radiate signals the beginning of the end of the voyage - the part of the trip where the sun is coming up, and the loved-up comedown finally rears its merciful head. This song is the Chemical Brothers at their most tender hearted and melodious finest. It manages to be a love song without being typical. It channels the spirits of Tangerine Dream and early 'Pure Phase' Spiritualized, resembling 'I Feel Like Going Home' in particular.  Tom has found his voice here, and the modest way the lyrics are paired with the texture and melody is truly beautiful. This song has bursts of builds - the tensions and release - but they are soft. Where the anxious builds and release of EML Ritual pushes you off a cliff, the release here is like being caught on clouds after swirling in a sunrise sky and being dropped from rays of light. I love this song. It's magic.

The magic flight ends with Wide Open. I'll admit I incorrectly thought this song felt a bit one dimensional initially. The song felt a bit too safe, a bit too radio-friendly a 'hit', and its placement on the album seemed somewhat wrongly positioned. Coming at the heels off the resplendent Radiate, Wide Open had immense shoes to fill as an album closer. Now, after a week of digging deep into this album, I have to wonder why this song's beauty took so long to reveal itself to me. When it finally clicked, the top floaty layer of Beck's vocals fell away as they were woven into fabric of the song, which builds so subtly that it almost took me by surprise when the song reached its climax. And take from the lyrics what you will. What seems like a pop song in the way only a Chemical Brothers pop song could sound, the message seems filled with melancholy and longing.

Born In The Echoes has challenged my senses as much as it has challenged my ears. Not since Dig Your Own Hole has an album unapologetically commanded my 100% undivided attention. The rest of their albums move as expeditions traveling, for the most part, seamlessly from A to Z. They are wonderful works of art that continue to intrigue and feel familiar and conceptual by design. It's not always immediately apparent, but the more I listen to this new album, the more I hear elements and echoes of their past. But Born In The Echoes seems to break the Chemical Brothers' own mold as it's navigated by wanderlust into unknown territory that is sometimes as confusing and frightening as it is beautiful and exhilarating. It all makes perfect sense now.

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


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Oh Whirls. I have nothing but respect for your drive to dig through the music.

I enjoyed reading your review, and I certainly have many similar sentiments.

Overall, I'm simply glad that the Chemical Brothers had another worthy album to put out. Very, very pleased indeed.


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Great review, Whirly
That part about this album being echo of their previous  work, is a thought that is running frequently  through my head when I listen to BITE
And I have to say I'm glad you changed your mind about Wide Open :D
I can hit cheeky lizards if I want!


  • 2rbo Nutt37
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.has an album unapologetically commanded my 100% undivided attention.
Yo, mama! Since there's no hug button here I am only able to press "like" :)
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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...and it is a big ass.........review of course ;D

Whirls....I like your chain of words such as:

anxiety-inducing severity
uncomfortably strong
melodious finest

and my fave..
plain fucking weirdness!

And the mention of past tracks to bring good connections to the new album, or as a reference to being in your perspective.

Fine review Whirls! Very lovely review indeed!
This is up there. Like, Star Guitar up there.


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a real fine woman gotta bump that ass up
 ;D

(magnificent review Whirly)
« Last Edit: Aug 07, 2015, 04:51 by Bosco »  


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This album is opposite of the new fantastic 4 movie.


 

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